A Squabbling Family?

John spoke up, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to expel demons and we stopped him because he wasn’t in our group.”

Jesus wasn’t pleased. “Don’t stop him. No one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next breath cut me down. If he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally. Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side. Count on it that God will notice.”     John 9:38-41 (The Message)

Have you ever visited a church besides your own? Another denomination? Or a non-denominational church? A synagogue? And when you were there, were you blessed by something the preacher or teacher said? Maybe you liked the music or the way they did their worship order? Or maybe you didn’t.

The disciples are talking to Jesus about this very subject. They are not happy that someone is carry the Gospel of Jesus and they don’t personally know this person.

I have been so abundantly blessed to have traveled and been in many churches. So many, I’ve lost count. That was a surprise to me because I grew up and went to the same church for almost 20 years before I ever went to another church. But I’ve been in many different kinds of churches. I couldn’t begin to explain their different doctrines. Henry would tell you that when the discussion gets deep into those differences, my eyes just glaze over!

There have been a few churches, very few, that have made me “uncomfortable”. My discomfort has usually been because there was a big difference in how something was done or said. I remember one church that had a wonderful group of 20-somethings who led worship. And they rocked God’s house! The music was loud and joyous and there were so many young military that came to that church and they loved the music! It hooked them into coming back again and again and they heard such great sermons. If the music was too loud for me, there was another more traditional service I could go to. And if I needed quieter music, I had plenty of CDs at home that I could play over and over to my heart’s content. And yes, there have 1-2 visits to a church that left me sad and uncertain as to whether God was a part of what I had seen and experienced.

But the other 99% of the time, I have been surprised and blessed to have met God in some unusual looking places. I know it was God because it was His Word and He was getting all the credit for what was happening. The people of the church were imperfect servants who were trying to do what God had called them to do. All kinds of music, all kinds of different priorities, and prayers said formally and just said from the heart. After all, God’s children are each unique, aren’t they?

And so do we follow Jesus and encourage each other and work together for His Kingdom? Too often we are worried about our “territories” and making sure we convince everyone else that our way of thinking and believing is the most correct. I believe that when Jesus sits us all down at His feast that we will learn how none of us had it completely right. And that won’t matter. The minor things we thought were so important will pale compared to the major thing – our belief in God.

But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? When one of you says, “I’m on Paul’s side,” and another says, “I’m for Apollos,” aren’t you being totally infantile?

Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.

Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.         1 Corinthians 3:1-11 (The Message)

The Prayer

by David Foster and Carol Bayer Sager
Sung by Charlotte Church and Josh Groban

I pray You’ll be our eyes, and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise in times when we don’t know
Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way
Lead us to the place, guide us with Your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe

I pray we’ll find Your light, and hold it in our hearts
When stars go out each night,
remind us where You are
Let this be our prayer, when shadows fill our day
Help us find a place, guide us with Your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe

A world where pain and sorrow will be ended
And every heart that’s broken will be mended
And we’ll remember we are all God’s children
Reaching out to touch You
Reaching to the sky

We ask that life be kind, and watch us from above
We hope each soul will find
another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
just like every child
Needs to find a place, guide us with Your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe 

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