Mark 9:38-41 has some relevant words for Christians today:
38 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.” 39 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. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 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.
Many times, we Christians will separate ourselves into “camps” or groups based on particular theological distinctives or ministry philosophies:
“That pastor’s from the Reformed camp.”
“He’s a ‘(Choose your Theological Seminary) Guy.'”
They’re from (Sovereign Grace/Acts 29/9 Marks/Some denomination).
These phrases, and other’s like them, can be very helpful in communicating quickly what someone may believe or practice, but there are several huge dangers, one of which is illustrated in this passage.
John is concerned because several people are casting out demons in Jesus’ name but they are not currently traveling with Jesus and the disciples. He sees their work and criticizes them for not fitting his mold of what following Jesus looks like. Jesus, however, reminds John that their work is good and right and worthy of commendation.
We can easily settle into the idea that people who do not meet our list of made-up qualifications are not really doing God’s work. I am guilty this. I am quick to criticize what other Christians or churches are doing simply because they don’t dot all the same i’s or cross the same t’s as I do.
But Jesus makes things so clear in this passage. Everyone doing God’s work is on the same team. We may do things a bit differently, we may disagree on even some important points of theology, but anyone truly seeking to know God better and serve Him more faithfully is not your enemy. We who seek the face of God are brothers and sisters in Christ, and Jesus is calling us to stop the family feud and fight together for His glory and grace.