by Christopher Harbin

Mutuality in Service
Christopher B. Harbin
Mark 9:38-50

It is easy to get comfortable with our routines, positions, and standing in life, so comfortable we forget the purposes behind them. We find patterns for our living and quickly adjust to them with little thought for why those patterns came to be. If we are not careful, we miss the purpose and fail to accomplish our intended goals. We get sidetracked by the comfortable, the secure, the tested and tried. We lose sight of the bigger picture. That's what happened so often to Jesus' disciples.
This time it wasn't Peter who stuck his foot in his mouth, it was John. "Lord, we saw a man casting out demons in the authority of your name and forbade him, since he is not one of us."
John did not see the irony of his words. John missed completely that his action had little bearing on the direction of Jesus' ministry or even the purpose for God creating flesh to live among us. To be honest, his actions had no relationship at all with Jesus, nor had Jesus really entered the picture when he and the others had taken their stance to inhibit this stranger from casting out demons in the authority of Jesus' name. They had not been really thinking of Jesus, but of themselves.
They were not looking at issues of purpose. There were not looking at Jesus' concerns over what he wanted to accomplish. They were not assessing the man's actions and attitudes in relationship with those of Jesus, whose name and authority he was using. They were looking at themselves. They were struggling with issues of their own status, standing, authority, meaning, and worth.
The questions to which they were reacting went something like this. If this guy we've never met can come along and cast out demons in Jesus' name and authority, what happens with our standing among the people? Here we have been following Jesus daily for some time, traveling with him all around, listening daily to his teachings, going on mission trips under Jesus' ...

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