We like to know who’s in and who’s out. More than that, we like to decide.
But, failing that, we’ll tune in to Entertainment Tonight, American Idol, Jeopardy, Hardball, Survivor and anything on ESPN to see to see who’s in and who’s out – socially, intellectually, competitively, politically, athletically, whatever. If we can vote somebody in that we like, or vote someone out that we don’t like … so much the better!
Jesus had a way of turning who’s in and who’s out inside-out.
When His followers found a fellow driving out demons in His name, they put the brakes on him fast. Why? “Because he is not one of us,” John explained.
Jesus said: “Don’t stop him! Whoever is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50) And in Mark 9:39 he adds, “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me.”
John understood the reverse, in Luke 11:23: “Whoever doesn’t gather with Me, scatters.” He “got” the truth that Jesus is an all-or-nothing proposition; you love Him or you hate Him. You’re with Him or you’re against Him. You’re “in” or you’re “out.” But, as far as John was concerned, if someone didn’t follow and wasn’t “in,” no demons should be cast out by him.
He didn’t stop to consider whether possessed people were better off without the demons.
Or the possibility that the power of Christ transcended one little group of followers.
Or the fact that Jesus could see and know about that person casting out demons as clearly as He could see Nathanael under the fig tree before Philip called him; as surely as He could feel virtue leave him when a woman touched His cloak to be healed.
Or that it’s Jesus who decides who’s in and who’s out.
I’d rather accept someone as “in” and then be disappointed not to see them in heaven, than to declare them as “out” and then be disappointed that I wasn’t in heaven with them. – Old Preacher Saying