"But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him,
for he who is not against us is on our side."
Were you ever part of a club when you were a kid? Do you remember trying to form an exclusive club that only let in those people that you liked? It was usually made up of the circle of friends that had interests that were similar to yours. They were people that you would have gotten along with even if there were no "club" for you to be in together. Having worked with teenagers for several years, I have seen how young people do this without an official club name. We call them cliques. The definition of a clique is "an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose." I tried to discourage teens from forming these groups, because I found that it wasn't so much about coming together with people as it was about excluding people.
The above passage shows that this attitude is nothing new, and unfortunately the mindset that John had is still alive and well today in Christian circles. Today Christians call them "camps", "fellowships", or "denominations". They expect everyone in their group to become a carbon copy of what they are. Their desire is to have cookie cutter Christians that all talk alike, walk alike, act alike, and dress alike. Any one who is a little bit different is shunned from their group. If they didn't go to the "right" college, then we can't fellowship with them. If they don't dress or look a certain way (mind you, we are not talking about modesty just style here), then they are to be criticized publicly. If their music style does not meet our approval, then they are to be castigated until they "get right with God." None of these areas are as important as their doctrinal beliefs, but that doesn't seem to faze us. We feel like we are doing God a favor by dismissing these individuals as not right with God. John came to Jesus and told Him that he had rebuked an individual for casting out demons. Why? His answer was because he wasn't in their group. Jesus' response to John was exactly the attitude that we need to develop. Those who are naming the name of Christ and preaching salvation through Him are on our side. Better yet, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ that we will spend eternity with. We need to tear down some man-made walls and march together with Christ against the gates of hell. We have allowed our pride to hinder us from being the army of God for way too long. I realize that there are many different personalities and many agendas, but there is only one Person that matters. The agenda of our Lord and Savior is more important than our desire for a personal kingdom. Let's rise up together and carry the blood-stained banner of the cross to a world that needs to see God's children united for His cause. Jesus said that the world would know we are His disciples, not because of the great things that we do, but by the love that we have for one another.
May you join together with others for the hope of Christ today.