“Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
~ Luke 9:49-50 (NIV)
The disciples complained to the Lord Jesus that some other men who were not of their group were ministering in Jesus’ name. The disciples had forbidden them to continue, but Jesus rebuked them. The Lord had to deal with Peter very specifically through a vision and a dramatic experience before he could say, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right” (Acts 10: 34,35).
The Apostle Paul enlarged on this idea in Romans 14. He summarized his teaching when he said, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” (Romans 14:4). “You then, why do you judge your brother?…for we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).
We must be very careful about rejecting someone simply because they do not serve the Lord the same way we do. If we quietly go about the work the Lord has given us, we need not be overly concerned about how others feel led to serve Him.
In Eritrea, Helen Berhane experienced differences among believers even in the horrible conditions of the shipping container prison. She writes in her book, Song of the Nightingale:
It was an incredible experience to share my imprisonment with others who were also imprisoned for their faith. However, with Christians from six different denominations in one container, we often found that we disagreed. For example, there was one lady who was a traditional Orthodox Christian; a very strong believer. If I told a joke as part of my Bible teachings she disapproved, so she actually began to pray and worship alone, and even eat alone. I found it amazing that even in a container she would not socialize with Christians she perceived to be too worldly! Other people argued over how we prayed. Some people preferred to pray silently, while others would pray out loud, and in such a small space it was easy to see why this was a problem.
I had to remind them, “We are not in our churches now. In our own church halls we can do as we please, but here we must tolerate each other’s differences. If we keep fighting they may send us to the underground prisons in the mountains, so we must be thankful for our freedom to worship together here, and not argue about the ways we used to worship when we were free.”
RESPONSE: Today I will be very careful about rejecting someone simply because they do not serve the Lord the same way I do.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to be humble in dealing with believers who see things differently than I.
1. Helen Berhane, Song of the Nightingale (Colorado Springs: Authentic Media, 2009), pp. 49-50.