But Is He with Us?Luke 9:46-50; Mark 9:38-41Theme: Christian tolerance.This week’s lessons remind us that there is both diversity and unity in the Body of Christ. LessonThere is a variety of places in which Christian service is performed. I have been called to the city of Philadelphia and I’m very much concerned about cities, Philadelphia in particular. I have preached on commitment to a particular place (like Philadelphia) so much that I can hardly come to a mention of the word “place” without thinking along these lines. I believe in a commitment to the great cities of the world so much and I want a commitment to Philadelphia by many Christian workers so much that I can hardly stand to see a person go somewhere else. I am sometimes critical, especially when I see a person go to what I consider an easy, pleasant, or affluent area, especially if it is for what I consider to be the wrong motives.
But that is not right, of course. People are called to the cities, but others are also called to the country. They are called to the East, but they are also called to the West. They are called to this country and to other countries, to the poor and to the affluent, to working areas and to residential areas, to peaceful areas and to troubled areas. It is good they are, for it is the entire world (and not just our own area of concern) that needs the gospel.
I come back to my original question and ask of these other workers: “But are they with us?” The answer is that indeed they are–if they are faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. If we serve under the same commander, then we are all in the same procession.
But since we are asking the question, let us turn it around and ask it of ourselves. Let us ask not, “Are they with us?” Let us ask rather, “Are we with them?” We want them to back what we are doing, in spirit if not with their actual presence and resources. Do we do that for others who are equally serious about wanting to do good for Christ? Let me tell you one thing I do. I am often interviewed on radio or television shows, and I am asked about my work. That usually turns to a discussion of Christian work in cities. When this happens, and it often does, I never consciously allow the occasion to pass without commending the other Christian works in Philadelphia, particularly the work of African-American churches. Their work is not my work. Their styles are quite different. But I generally say, “The best work in the city of Philadelphia today is being done by the African-American churches.” And I give specifics as to the number of churches, the size of their congregations, the variety of services, and the quality of leadership these churches provide.
That is what we need to do for all who serve in Christ’s name. We may not be able to endorse everything they do, but we should be able to say, “That person (or that work) is an authentic work of Christ, and I stand behind it. I am for any good work done for others in Jesus’ name.” Study Questions
For what purpose does God call believers to a variety of places?
What frequently divides believers today?
ReflectionAre you committed to the place where God has established your life today? How are you living out that commitment?
PrayerOur Father, we confess that when we talk about other people, we all stand guilty because we tend to think that what we do is best. Forgive us for that. And instead, we pray, give us eyes to see that your kingdom is greater than our own little feifdom and that your work through many different people and in different channels is indeed going forward in this world for Jesus’ sake. Amen.