This post is one in a series of reflections for Lent. I invite you to go back and read the previous reflections.
This passage begins with Jesus again telling the disciples that he will be betrayed and killed. All this will happen, but he will rise again. Almost immediately, we see that they are just not getting it. Jesus can hear them arguing as they are walking along the road.
When they reach a home, he asks them what they were discussing. They are embarrassed to answer, because they were discussing who will be the greatest in his kingdom. They are still seeing the kingdom as being lifted up. Jesus wants to see that his kingdom will involve being humbled, being brought low. Jesus is in the process of setting the example of greatest. His sacrifice will serve as our example of how to achieve greatness.
Do you want to be first? Then you have to be the least of all. You have to serve everyone. Greatness in this new kingdom will not bring service to you, but will compel you to serve those around you.
The gospel of Jesus is a revolutionary concept. This is a story for the insignificant. God is not concerned with the glory that men cast upon themselves. He seeks the humble to lavish honor on them. Jesus tells the disciples that the kingdom will welcome children. The children would be the insignificant. This kingdom is for the look over and neglected. No more will the religious community be lead by the great and powerful among men, but by the humble and lowly. The ones whom God has always sought. Jesus has come to upset the social order. What we see as great, is not the same as what God does. Humility will be the true mark of disciples.
There was a bus load of senior citizens that crashed. All of the people are killed and go to heaven. Saint Peter meets them at the pearly gates and begins to give them a tour. They walk past one room, and it is whisper quiet. There are a lot of candles and organ music. Saint Peter tells them that this is where the Catholic's live. They go a little further, past a room that is alive with activity. There is hollering and shouting. People are dancing and jumping around. Saint Peter tells them that is where the Pentecostals live. They walk a little further, and Saint Peter asks them to be very quiet. They walk a little further and one of the ladies ask why they had to be so quiet. Saint Peter tells her that is where the Baptists live and they think they are the only ones here.
I wanted to tell that joke to introduce the next thing that we see in this passage. Before you think that I am unfairly targeting the Baptist, I am certain that you could replace Baptist with any one of the other flavors of Christians. It seems with each succeeding break away comes the assurance that we are the only ones that have it right and everyone else is wrong. That is just ridiculous. If you look at the causes of division among the various denominations, then you will see that there is more similarity among Christians than there are differences. It is this similarities that we should focus on.
The disciples had come across some people casting out demons in Jesus name. They had told them to stop, because they weren't in Jesus group. Jesus tells them to not stop them. He says that who ever is not against us is for us. He says that anyone who serves in the name of Jesus will be rewarded. The disciples do not have any type of monopoly on Jesus. As the church grows, the message of Jesus will be for all people.
Our faith is not found in our doctrine. Our salvation is not found in our views of baptism or the Lord's Supper. It is not found in our beliefs about Church government. Our faith and salvation is found in a person. Our faith is found in the person of Jesus Christ. I believe in glory there will be those that believe in infant baptism as well as believers baptism. I believe there will be Congregationalists and Presbyterians. There will be Catholics and Protestants. There will be Orthodox and Pentecostals. It will not be right doctrine that will ultimately bring people to glory. It will be that interchange between finite and infinite. It is an interaction between God and man. Salvation is such a personal encounter, that I don't that we even fully grasp what is occurring in its fullness.
We listen to the teaching of Jesus of the goats and sheep. We can get proud and think that he is talking about us versus all the other denominations. I don't believe that is at all what he is talking about. If we elevate our doctrine to be that dividing line between salvation and damnation, then we are not truly believing in Jesus for salvation. We ought to seek right doctrine, but not at the cost of losing sight of Christ. Christ is God. My doctrine is how I try to understand God.
I believe it is possible to be filled with all the right doctrine, and still miss the boat. I do not want to be in the fires of hell, discussing the difference between Calvinism and Arianism! I will cling to Christ as my only means for reconciliation to my Creator. If I err in other areas, then I anxiously await for that glorious intersection of finite and infinite when he will show me all. As one bride we can put to bed all of the arguments that Satan has used to impede his ultimate defeat by the One and Only Son of God.