“Now John answered Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.’ ” Mark 9:38
The drive to be competitive seems to be engrained in our natures. From when we’re children running races, or challenging our family members to get their chores done first, or trying to best one another by carrying the biggest load we demonstrate that drive to some how better one another.
Most of the time the back and forth of oneupmanship is little more than playing but there are times when that competitive streak can become toxic. Whenever our drive to compete is used as a way of denigrating, delegitimizing, disenfranchising or excluding someone then I believe it’s become toxic.
The instance sited in our focus text is one example where the disciples were beginning to tend toward a toxic territorial type of competitiveness.
Apparently someone had heard Jesus teach and seen him heal. Perhaps later he’d seen one or more of the disciples healing and casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Later he encountered a situation where a miraculous intervention was needed and since he believed in Jesus concluded that he too ought to be able to command a miracle as the other disciples had done. So he commanded the miracle to occur and his faith was rewarded. Having achieved success he continued to use his faith to heal in Jesus name.
But faith and results wasn’t enough to demonstrate his legitimacy to Jesus’ disciples. He needed to be following Jesus just like they were.
Friends, we need to be careful that we don’t place requirements on people for Jesus. The disciples did damage to the cause of Christ because in their toxic competitiveness they decided they needed to make requirements for Jesus. We have enough trouble living up to the requirements that Jesus has place before us as being necessary for life and salvation. We have no business, we have no qualifications that would make us capable of, adding to what is already there.
Jesus instruction to the disciples, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side,” tells us that our only concern should be that Christ’s work on earth is going forward. Don’t do anything to hinder the ones that are working.