“Whoever isn’t against us is for us.” (Mark 9:40, CEB)
It’s amazing how easy people develop an elitist mentality; and Christians are certainly not exempt for this behavior. The scripture above from this Sunday’s assigned Gospel text is Jesus responding to this attitude among his disciples. The disciples had seen some people doing ministry and because these folks were not part of their in-crowd (the 12 disciples and those traveling with Jesus), Jesus’ disciples’ trip to put a stop to the ministry these other folks were doing. Jesus responds to their attitude and behavior in what I’ll call a lesson on “The Stewardship of Allies.”
It’s truly sad when communities of faith make their beliefs and distinctives so narrow and confining that Jesus Himself would not be able to join their church or satisfy our membership criteria. Jesus never ask us to discard our distinctiveness or water down our beliefs and commitment to the lowest possible denominator so that we can all be together organizationally in one group. Instead, Jesus urges us to live out our convictions in love and to do so respecting the diversity of faith and beliefs of others.
For example, Covenant is in partnership through Greater Birmingham Ministries with 15 other Christian congregations, 2 Jewish Temples and a Moslem Mosque. While all the faith communities happen to stem from Abrahamic faith traditions we are each very different in our convictions about our faith. That’s true even among the 16 Christian congregations themselves. But in service to the vision and mission of Greater Birmingham Ministries (helping the least of these among us,) we remember in “The Stewardship of Allies” that “whoever isn’t against us is for us.”
This is Stewardship Month at Covenant where we are seeking commitments to fund our ministry vision and mission for 2019. However, my sermons have also highlighted other aspects of Stewardship. Join us for worship this Sunday at Covenant. My sermon will be “The Stewardship of Allies” based on Mark 9:38-42.