“…for the one who is not against you is for you."
(Luke 9:50 ESV)
This is a verse that has often caught my attention. It’s done so because we often think of it in the opposite way. We often believe that the one who is not for us is against us.
However, the one who is not for us is not always against us. They may not know us, and they may not be our fans. But, regardless, we’re working for a common purpose.
We see this as we look at the context of this verse. The disciples came to Jesus telling him that they’d seen someone casting out demons in his name. And when they saw this, they tried to stop him. They did so because he did not follow with them.
Jesus responded to them, telling them not to stop him. They were not to stop him because the one who is not against them is for them. He was in no way opposing them or their ministry while he engaged in his own.
As I preached at our community service here in Beulah last week, I highlighted that all who have faith in Christ are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Even though we have our own congregations, with beliefs and practices that differ slightly, we have many more similarities than we do differences. We are all trusting in Christ, and in him alone, for the salvation he provides. And we also share a common call and a common purpose.
Those who attend the other churches in town may not follow the Lord with me. And, in the same way, we may also serve separately. But we are, in no way, opposing one another.
We often look at the other churches in town, we often look at the other pastors in town, as our competition. Because they are not following Christ together with us, we set ourselves against them. We want to be more successful than them. We’d be happy if we could get their people to come to our church. In fact, we’d be just fine with it if their church closed its doors.
Like the disciples, we must realize that those who are not against us are for us. Even if they aren’t following with us, they’re following the same Lord. Even if they aren’t serving with us, we are serving the same Lord.
That being said, I’m not suggesting should throw caution to the wind. We all know that there are many who profess faith in Christ and to serve him, yet their ministry is not Scriptural in the least. And, as a pastor, I view the protection of the flock as an important responsibility. Before I recommend that someone attend a particular church or ministry, or before I recommend that they make use of a particular resource, I want to know that we’re on the same page. This is even more the case if someone is to teach or to share in the congregation I serve.
However, as I’ve pointed out, there are many who follow Christ who are not following with me. There are many who serve Christ who are not serving with me. And just because this is true of them doesn’t indicate that they are off base or that their ministry should be hindered. He who is not against me is for me. The one who is not opposing my ministry is following and serving the same Lord.