Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Numbers 32-34; Mark 9:30-50
38 John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone throwing demons out in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.”
39 Jesus replied, “Don’t stop him. No one who does powerful acts in my name can quickly turn around and curse me. 40 Whoever isn’t against us is for us. 41 I assure you that whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will certainly be rewarded (Mark 9:38-41, Common English Bible).
“Hey Preacher, did you know…” Those words are enough to bring cold sweats to many of us who are pastors. We get worried because of what might be following those five words. The list could be endless and many of those things are less than pleasant for us.
On one particular day, it wasn’t too bad but I quickly realized there was a teaching moment in front of me. “Hey Preacher, did you know the Baptist Church took our idea of providing backpacks for needy kids? They are going to do that for the kids at XYZ Elementary School like we do for ABC Elementary.”
What was left unsaid was, “You need to call them Preacher and tell them to stop. It was our idea.” My response that day was, “No, I didn’t know they were doing that but I am sure glad to hear it. We can’t afford to support all the kids at the five elementary schools in the area. Because they are stepping up to take care of a school, now we need to find three more and all the kids will have the help they need.”
From the look on the man’s face, it was obvious he didn’t agree. “But those families might join the Baptist Church instead of our church. We need to get more members here.”
I probably should have pulled out today’s lesson but I didn’t. I just said, “Except for on the softball field (there was a church softball league in that community and we both had teams in the league), just because the Baptist Church wins doesn’t mean our church loses.
The man could see I wasn’t going to call the Baptist preacher up and chew on him for stealing our idea and he just walked away. But what I said at the end was true. Just because another church wins, does not mean our church loses. That really is the case because that other church isn’t who really wins. When people come to the faith, when they build a relationship with God, because of what the Body of Christ does in the community and in the world, it is the Kingdom that wins.
I have been fortunate enough during my career to have had good relationships with the other pastors in the communities I have served. We have worked together on many community events, had worship services together, supported each other in some difficult times for one another’s congregations and more.
Today’s lesson has the disciples telling Jesus about someone they found doing ministry in Jesus’ name and they told the person to stop because the person wasn’t someone who got to go around with Jesus on a daily basis. Jesus said, in essence, “Leave them alone. If they aren’t working against us, they are working for the Kingdom.”
I am never going to theologically agree with all my brothers and sisters in other denominations. I know that because I can’t even agree theologically with all my United Methodist brothers and sisters. But, what I do know, is we are all working toward the same end. And, we can each have a list of beliefs as long as our arms and many of the items on our lists will be different. But, Jesus Christ as Lord has to be number one. I think we could all agree on that one.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved