John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone throwing demons out in your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn’t following us.” — Mark 9:38
Why did John say that to Jesus?
Did he assume that, because Jesus had chosen him, other people weren’t chosen?
Did he think that he had a corner on the truth because he wore the badge of “Official Disciple”?
Did he want to make himself look good by criticizing someone who wasn’t part of his group?
It’s so easy to fall into such self-righteous thinking. That’s because we can unconsciously make things more about us and less about our task of serving and loving.
Jesus gently corrected his disciple. He replied, “Don’t stop him. No one who does powerful acts in my name can quickly turn around and curse me. Whoever isn’t against us is for us.”
Or, to put it concisely, it’s not about us but about Jesus.
This hits home personally. I admit that I hold a bit of anger, for several reasons, toward those who trash-talk the United Methodist Church and break away regarding LGBTQ. It’s easy for me to make assumptions regarding them. I feel as Jesus felt towards the Pharisees (Matthew 23:1-36). But Jesus can get away with that, and I can’t. I should be able to disagree without judging them. Because when I judge, I’m doing what John did, assuming that I have a corner on the Gospel and a stainless pulpit from which to preach.
The sobering fact is that Jesus is working in the Global Methodist Church as well as in the United Methodist Church. Both have baggage, and both have the ability, in their own ways, of reflecting Jesus’ light.
Father Mychal Judge was a Franciscan Friar and a chaplain to the Fire Department of the City of New York. He died on 9/11, administering last rites to a dying firefighter at the foot of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. He often prayed this prayer:
Lord, Take me where you want me to go; let me meet who you want me to meet; tell me what you want me to say; and keep me out of your way. Amen.
May Jesus give you and me the humility and wisdom to know when to get out of his way.