Agents of Unity
One of the sure signs that we've rejected Jesus in the world today is the lack of unity that exists in our communities, in our world. Jesus was a lover of unity. And it seems that every chance we get, we're creating divisions between ourselves and other people, between one group and another group.
In this gospel, Jesus teaches the disciples a really powerful lesson. He has sent them out. They've been teaching. They've been healing. They come back and John says to Him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name. And we forbade him because he was not following us." Wow. "We saw a man casting out demons in your name. And we forbade him because he was not following us." The important word here: us. Disciples didn't say, "We forbade him because he was not following you, Jesus." No. "We forbade him because he was not following us." And Jesus said to them, "Do not forbid him. For no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us."
What's He saying? He’s saying don't create unnecessary divisions. We do it all the time. We do it all the time in our lives. We do it all the time in the church. The infighting in the church all the time. This group or that group. Two groups doing music in the same parish, fighting amongst each other. "Ours is better. Theirs is worse. Ours is the right way. Theirs is the wrong way." You magnify that in a thousand ways through every type of ministry that exists in the church. And we seem to lack the maturity to say, "They're doing a good thing. It isn't the way I'd do it but they're doing a good thing. It's helping people. It's not for everybody but they're doing a good thing." We seem to lack that maturity. Because nothing is for everyone. God is the Creator and He is creative and He uses a myriad of creative ways to reach people. What's Jesus essentially saying? "Guys, we've got enough things to worry about. Those that are not against us, they're for us. It's the ones that are truly against us that are the concern."
And while they're caught up in this sort of frivolous division, Jesus then lands one of His heaviest teachings. It's about the burden of teaching itself. About the burden of teaching. He says, "Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea." It's a powerful image, right? There's no confusion there. This is haunting. This is haunting. I find this haunting. I've found this haunting for a long, long time. You want to go out there and teach anyone anything? You better be careful not to cause any of these little ones-- lead them astray. Because what's going to happen? It's going to be bad. Going to get a great millstone hung around your neck, and be thrown into the sea. It's powerful. A powerful teaching.
How are you creating divisions in this world? Are they real? Are they imagined? How are you an agent of unity in this world? And, of course, it begins with the unity of our own life. Are we living an integrated life? Are we living a life of unity? Are we striving constantly to align our words, our actions, our values with the gospel and the teachings of Jesus Christ? Because if we cannot find unity within, if we are not striving for unity within, we will not bring unity anywhere we go.