John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.
The disciples had a strong sens of identity as followers of Jesus Christ. This identity caused them, in particular John, to think about their own status ion the coming kingdom (Mark 9:34). In maintaining their own identity the disciples became upset at others using Jesus’ name for exorcism. In maintaining their own ‘in crowd’ position it became necessary, they thought, to exclude others.
The cliquishness which too easily affects a defined group of people with a sense of mission is among the ‘worldly’ values which must be challenged in the name of the kingdom of God.
France, R. T.: The Gospel of Mark : A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle : W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2002, S. 378
This story calls to mind, for those who have ears, Numbers 11:26-29.
26 Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. 27 And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” 29 But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 And Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.
Three sayings of Jesus challenge their exclusive attitude
1) He does a mighty work (Mark 9:39)
2) He who is not against us is for us
3) An outsider who helps an insider will receive a reward. the boundary markers of disciple/outsider are not that of friend/enemy.
Ok thats the text. It can be applied in lots of different ways to contemporary Christian praxis. I think of my Evangelical heritage which rightfully allows a line to be drawn in the sand of who is in and who is out. All doctrinal statements do this. Yet in drawing the line in the sand it needs to be asked what is the attitude to those who stand outside. I suggest from Jesus work that the category of friend/enemy should not be used, for God is at work outside of one’s own sociological/theological camp.
Jesus calls his peopel to develop a kingdom attitude. This is not postmodern inclusivism but the radical demands for those hwo profess Christ as king.