John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. (Mark 9:38-40)The Gospel lectionary reading for today presents a cautionary lesson for all of us. Jesus' disciples see someone casting out demons in Jesus' name and they try to stop him because he is not part of their group. When told about this, Jesus tells his disciples to do just the opposite: don't stop anyone who is trying to do something good in my name.
I wonder: how often do we frown upon religious groups that don't bear our "label"? I think Jesus' words suggest that we should count as a brother or sister anyone who seeks to do good in his name.
An Episcopal priest who is a friend of mine said to me some time ago, "I can't imagine that Jesus is going to be upset with me on Judgment Day for being too inclusive."
I think my friend was right. Jesus' view of the kingdom seems to be far more inclusive than that of his followers. How might Jesus want us to change to get in line with his inclusive vision?