Mark 9 tells of a time when John came to Jesus with the news that there was a man casting out demons in Jesus’ name but because he was not a follower of the apostles, they told him to stop. Jesus corrected John with these simple words:

“Do not stop him. No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us” (vv. 39-40).

We don’t talk much about the competitive spirit in Christianity but it’s there, and not very far under the surface. Pastors compare the size of their churches, church members compare their pastors, and we like to think that our church and our denomination is the “best.”

I ran across these helpful (and challenging) thoughts by J. C. Ryle:

Men of all branches of Christ’s church are apt to think that no good can be
done in this world, unless it is done by their own party and denomination. . . .
They make an idol of their own peculiar ecclesiastical machinery, and can
see no merits in any other. . . .

We may think our fellow Christians mistaken in some points. We may fancy
that more would be done for Christ, if they would join us, and if all worked in
the same way. We may see many evils arising from religious dissensions
and divisions.

But this must not prevent us rejoicing if the works of the devil are destroyed
and souls are saved. Is our neighbor warring against Satan? Is he really
trying to labor for Christ? This is the grand question.

Better a thousand times that the work should be done by other hands than not
done at all.

What great things would happen in the fragmented body of Christ if we had a revival of bigheartedness in our midst. Think how the world would react if they saw true Christians from different backgrounds loving each other and praying for each other. We may disagree about mode of baptism, church government, which worship music is best, what to eat and drink, how to dress, and the details surrounding the Second Coming. When we finally get to heaven, the Lord will sort those things out for us. Until then we do well to adopt the old saying that goes like this:

In essential things, unity,
In non-essential things, liberty,
In all things, charity.

Let’s ask God to make us bighearted Christians today.

Lord, you look from heaven and see how badly divided your children are. We know you prayed that “they all might be one,” but that prayer is not yet fully answered. So please, Lord, give us bighearted faith to embrace the whole family of God. We ask this so that the world may know that in loving you, we also love each other. Amen.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.