“Teacher, we saw someone using your name to force demons out of a person. We told him to stop, because he does not belong to our group.” Mark 9:38
John has a dilemma. He and the other disciples ran into someone who was doing great work. This man was casting out demons (the very act the disciples had trouble doing in Mark 9:20). He was changing lives. And, what’s more, the man was giving the credit to God. He was doing it in the name of Christ.
Everything about him was so right. Right results. Right heart. But there was one problem. He was from the wrong group.
So the disciples did what any able-bodied religious person would do with someone from the wrong group. “We told him to stop, because he does not belong to our group” (v. 38).
John wants to know if they did the right thing. John’s not cocky; he’s confused. So are many people today. What do you do about good things done in another group? What do you do when you like the fruit but not the orchard?
I’ve asked that question. I am deeply appreciative of my heritage. It was through a small, West Texas Church of Christ that I came to know the Nazarene, the cross, and the Word. The congregation wasn’t large, maybe two hundred on a good Sunday. Most of the families were like mine, blue-collar oil-field workers. But it was a loving church. When our family was sick, the members visited us. When we were absent, they called. And when this prodigal returned, they embraced me.
I deeply appreciate my heritage. But through the years, my faith has been supplemented by people of other groups.
A Brazilian Pentecostal taught me about prayer. A British Anglican by the name of C.S. Lewis put muscle in my faith. A Southern Baptist helped me understand grace.
One Presbyterian, Steve Brown, taught me about God’s sovereignty while another, Frederick Buechner, taught me about God’s passion. A Catholic, Brennan Manning, convinced me that Jesus is relentlessly tender. I’m a better husband because I read James Dobson and a better preacher because I listened to Chuck Swindoll and Bill Hybels.
And only when I get home will I learn the name of a radio preacher whose message steered me back to Christ. I was a graduate student who’d lost his bearings. Needing some money over Christmas break, I took a job driving an oil-field delivery truck. The radio only picked up one station. A preacher was preaching. On a cold December day in 1978 I heard him describe the cross. I don’t know his name. I don’t know his heritage. He could have been a Quaker or an angel or both for all I know. But something about what he said caused me to pull the pickup onto the side of the road and rededicate my life to Christ.
From In the Grip of Grace