John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.
It seems that Jesus is continuing to try to teach his disciples and us that the thing about God’s grace and love is that, there is more than enough for everybody.
He has healed the blind, the deaf, the lame, and fed thousands of people with a few loaves and fish, and even raised the dead to life, but the disciples are still believing that the truth of God’s love must come from them and no one else because they are with Jesus.
It is hard for them to believe that others have heard Jesus, and believe he brings God’s love and grace to all. They believe his message of healing is one that they too can share, and they do. So, Jesus is telling his disciples to be thankful that they are sharing God’s love and grace.
Jesus tells us here too that we don’t need to worry about who shares God’s grace and love to others. We need to rejoice and give thanks to God when we see it being shared by anyone.
When I read this scripture I could not help but think of the denominational prejudices, partialities and discriminations that have existed since then and still exist among Christians today. Perhaps we grow up in a particular church environment and come to think it has the only truth about God and God’s work. I am sure anyone who reads this has experienced it or seen such prejudices in action. In such cases we believe that our confessions are better than others, and in the process we forget that we are all in the same boat with Jesus, hoping to take God’s grace and love to the world.
Jesus wants us to see that we need to stick together and give thanks to God for the work of others as they take God’s love and grace to the world in their understanding of it. Our faith in Christ is not about competition of who can get the most people into our church, or who has the only truth. It is about sharing God’s love and grace however we can. It is about support of each other and community.
These contentions and competitions are not new. We can see from this text that from the very beginning those who follow Jesus have struggled with accepting the gifts of others who are not in their group, community or denomination, so it is not surprising that we are still struggling with it. Jesus wants us to see that God’s grace, mercy and love are the vehicles through which we discover and express our identity as followers of Christ and children of God. And one of the great things about service, love, and mercy is that you never run out of them. There is no scarcity of opportunity to care for others, no lack of incidents and opportunities to love our neighbor. This is the way of the cross.
- When was the last time you thought or perhaps said, “I saw someone…”, or “I heard someone…”? Or maybe not in those words but you tended to classify them as different and not knowing the truth of God’s love as you do?
- How do you work together with other Christians who are not in your congregation or denomination to share the love and grace of God in your community?
- Where do you see people of many denominations or religions working together to bring God’s love, mercy, and grace to others?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.