38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 “For he who is not against us is for us. 41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward. 42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.
This little snippet into the minds of the disciples exposes a great catastrophe in today’s Christian church. We have all developed, out of the same faith in Christ, different ways of “believing” in Him. I word it this way so we can recognize how we have profaned faith as a whole and our individual faith in God. Many of us have taken on the attitude of, “well, if they aren’t doing it the way I am/we are, then they are doing it wrong.” Yet, Jesus says that if they truly believe in Jesus and their faith, regardless of how great or small it is brings more to Him, then we are to leave them be and even encourage them! Jesus says that if we hinder their faith or discourage them, it would be better for us if we were anchored to the floor of the sea.
In Romans 12, where the Apostle Paul begins to preach about our transformation in Christ, he reminds us of this simple principle:
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
I included verses 1 & 2 because we normally quote these but neglect what follows. Paul is talking about not being conformed to the mindset of this world, but instead to recognize that we have each been given a measure of faith purposely for what God has created us to do in this world, but to recognize that we are all still part of the same body. Is the thumbnail less significant that the lung or your nose hairs less important than your pinky toe? Some may say yes, but they each have their purpose in function in regards to your body and therefore equally important. So then, does it matter if someone goes to Catholic Mass faithfully or to a nondenominational church 3 times a week in regards to the strength of the body of Christ as long as they believe and draw others closer to the throne of God? The mindset of the world that Paul is addressing with the church in Rome is that we shouldn’t think of ourselves better than others, whether it involves our faith or anything else. It isn’t about being better, it’s about being Christlike.
Why do we squabble and concern ourselves whether or not someone is “doing it right,” when we are probably doing it wrong as well? The majority of people I have interacted with that nitpick over congregational differences and denominational doctrines don’t seem to be any closer to following Christ than those they are complaining about. Yet we continue to miss this very integral part of Jesus’ instruction. This isn’t to say that doctrine isn’t important, because it lays the baseline of our faith, but let us not fall into the same trap of the Pharisees and even Jesus’ disciples by surrendering our faith for self-righteousness.
Our problem is that we let our pride dictate our faith. We assume that our way is the best way and the only way and instead of edifying the body of Christ, we tear it down. The hand tells the foot that it isn’t working properly because it should be able to use a spoon and cuts it off, instead of recognizing it’s gifts and traits given by God and therefore helping it be the best foot it can be. How have you cut down others of seemingly weaker faith than you? Who worships and honors God in a way that makes you judge them? How weak are you in your faith that would cause others to judge you? Have you ever thought that maybe YOU are doing it wrong?