Start playing Unity: What’s the Big Deal? by clicking on the red arrow.
We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the word of God. And today’s slice comes from Mark 9:33:
…and He came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, what was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. and he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, if any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, He said unto them, whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but Him that sent me.
And John answered him, saying, master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part.
For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
Now, what did he just say: “For he that is not against us is on our part.”
Other versions of the Bible say: “Anyone who isn’t against us is for us.”
This reminds me of a funny little story told by Max Lucado:
“Some time ago my wife bought a monkey. I didn’t want a monkey in our house, so I objected. ‘Where is he going to eat?’ ‘At our table.’ ‘Where is he going to sleep?’ ‘In our bed.’ ‘What about the odor,’ I demanded. ‘I got used to you, I guess the monkey will.’”
Getting along with others doesn’t begin by demanding that others change, but in accepting that we aren’t so perfect ourselves. For a great example of this let’s go to a small village called Capernaum and enter a small house occupied by Jesus and the disciples. Listen as the Master asks them a question. This is where Jesus asked the question in today’s slice of the bread of life: “What were you arguing about on the road.”
The disciples faces did not turn red, but, pink with embarrassment. They had not argued about doctrine, or strategy, or ethics, or values. Lets go back and read: “they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.”
Peter probably thought he was because he had walked on water. John was known as the disciple that Jesus loved. Andrew bragged that he had introduced Jesus to Peter. They were jockeying for position. Isn’t that where division begins? Where jealousy and selfishness start to develop?
Don’t think too lowly of the disciples or the Pharisees. Do not we do the same between denominations: Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Pentecostals?
This brings to my mind the story told about the time John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic President. It seems this lady went into the post office to purchase stamps. The clerk asked her which denomination she wanted. She exclaimed: “Well, I didn’t know it would come to this. I certainly do not want Catholic stamps, I’ll take half Baptist and half Methodist.”
Now, let me be clear I speak today not about “union” of churches, which is defined by Noah Webster’s dictionary of 1828 as: “combining or consolidating of two or more churches into one”; I am speaking about “unity” which is defined in the same dictionary, under “Christian theology” as: “one in sentiment, affection or behavior”…