This Sunday’s Gospel passage recounts the story of John and the other disciples running into an outsider that was casting out demons in Jesus’ name. John does not say that this man interfered with the disciples’ work, that he had a different purpose, or that he opposed them. He simply says, “he was not one of us.” Jesus tells them not to stop the man, “for whoever is not against us is for us.”
Jesus is teaching us that discipleship is not some personal privilege to be jealously guarded. Appreciation of the good deeds done by others is essential. To believe in Jesus is a great gift from God. Anyone that does a good act to another in Jesus’ name is certainly blessed. A major theme throughout the Gospels is how God works so often through outcasts – the Good Samaritan – and for outcasts – the cure of the daughter of the Canaanite woman. God’s power is not limited to ‘church’ or institution. He did not call just believers. He wants all to come to him!
The good things we do, even something as apparently insignificant as giving a cup of water, will not go unrewarded. On the other hand, if we should block others from believing in God, Jesus tells us in very descriptive language that there will be a price to pay. How we deal with each other reminds us of our responsibility, either good or bad, that we portray in our way of living.
Different people follow Christ and relate to God in different ways. Jesus looks at what a person is committed to and sees discipleship in many ways. Maybe some of our prayer time might be to pray for all who are committed to goodness, faith and justice in the world, no matter in what way they show this.
Let us be an instrument for God to bless others. Let us always remember that every good deed, great or small, be it a gesture of giving a cup of water or supporting charities, is not lost in the sight of God. By allowing ourselves to be a channel of God’s love and joy to others, we will reap the reward of eternal life.