Mark 9:38-41 - 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 mighty work in My Name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward."
John and the other disciples are really concerned about people having the right credentials, aren't they? They meet a guy doing miracles in Jesus' Name, and the first thing that comes to mind is protecting their turf. "You're not one of us!" they think, and so they start scolding him, yelling and complaining, trying to shut him down. Never mind the miracles! Never mind the fact that people are being set free from the power of evil spirits. Never mind the glory this is bringing to Jesus' Name. All they can see is that this guy isn't one of them—and so he must be the enemy.
We can be like that too, sometimes. Maybe there's a church down the street with a ridiculous-sounding name and bad taste in music. Or maybe someone shows up to church with multi-colored hair, body piercings, and a load of tattoos. Or maybe it's just the opposite—a person comes in who dresses and behaves so perfectly that they remind us irresistibly of that middle school teacher who terrified us. Whatever it is, they're not like us. And we reject them by reflex.
But Jesus puts the brakes on. "Whoa!" He says. "The one who is not against us is for us." After all, it would be very hard to do miracles in Jesus' Name and then turn right around and say something rotten about Him. There will be some very odd characters in the kingdom of heaven—we have been warned!—and some of them are people we would normally walk right past. But Jesus doesn't.
And that's a good thing for all of us, because we all have something that makes us reject-able—unworthy—even unwanted, if everybody knew the truth about us. But not with God. God looks right at us, in all our mistakes and sin and oddity, and He calls us to belong to Him just the same. He sends His Son Jesus to live and to die and to rise again for us—even us—so that we, too, can be God's people. The door of God's kingdom is open even to the oddballs, even to the ones who don't fit in—even to us. And because Jesus has made us God's own, we can welcome one another as brothers and sisters—no matter how odd we are.
THE PRAYER: Lord, help me to look at my neighbors—all my neighbors—and see the much-loved people for whom You died and rose for. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. How would you describe "your kind of people"?
2. What kind of people make you feel most uncomfortable?
3. Tell about a time when you saw God's Holy Spirit overcome the differences between people and help them to love one another in spite of differences.
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