…Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name…and we forbad him, because he followeth us not.
But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.
“But Jesus said,” that these words occur frequently in the gospels should alert us to a foundational truth about Christianity. Not only does Christianity think differently from the world outside, but it also is not always understood by those who claim its name and those who strive to practice it. I think this is especially true in American culture.
Judaism was generally practiced in, if not a hostile, at least an unfriendly environment. The people who followed Jesus were often caught off guard by his doctrine that seemed to transcend the prevailing cultural norm and their fears.
Do you remember when Jesus asked to see the Roman penny? He was penniless because as a matter of principle and ceremonial cleanness, Jews refused to carry Roman money. Yet, this same Jesus stepped outside of cultural practices to heal Romans and Phoenicians, carry on conversations with Samaritans, and call publicans to discipleship.
God’s kingdom, which is the divine design for humanity, operates upon principles foreign to human nations. In God’s kingdom, there is no division between Jew and Greek, male and female, or free and bond. There is no distinction between races, denominations, or political ideologies. This is not because there are no differences, but that the Spirit of God casts out the fear that gives strength and legitimacy to divisions.
Human governments and alliances operate most efficiently on fear. People band together best for the common good in the face of a foe. It need not be an armed human enemy. It can be economic depression, poverty, race, religion, gender, a virus, anything people are told poses an unprecedented threat to their comfort and plays upon their fear. It is easy under such circumstances to believe anyone with a differing opinion or belief is the enemy.
The scriptures say that the law is not made for a righteous person. That is because they do from the heart that which is right. Not the “legal” right, but the right born of integrity, honor, and love. They act not in response to fearmongering, or the social message hammered daily which is contrary to the right they know by experience.
Modern Christianity, married as it is to the State and spewing its message of fear, has lost its way. Christianity has lost its savor lifting up the social proclamation above an experience with God.
“But Jesus said,” the person who does good and holds to the right against social pressures is our friend whether they claim our name or not. This is an open door to new friends seeking more than a Sunday pew in which to be entertained with modern music and a message of social advancement.
Do you have something different to offer? Perhaps a hand of fellowship founded on truth rather than name?