looking optimistic

This morning I have been musing on a phrase in my Bible (thanks to Wordlive).

What are the implications of Jesus saying: “Whoever is not against us is for us…” (Mark 9:40)?

glasses and their caseIt’s a phrase that often sneaks under my radar when I look at that passage, but it bears thinking about. It’s an astonishingly optimistic approach that expands the horizons of what God is doing. Except for those who are actively opposing what Jesus and his followers are doing, the rest are included as on their side! It’s a bit like counting any abstentions as votes in favour rather than seeing them as ‘non-votes’ or even counting them as votes that are not in favour.

I received a message in Sunday School through the narrow theology of a well-meaning and deeply faithful follower of Jesus that we are under attack and should adopt a siege mentality. When I was bullied by a few people at school because I was a Christian that sense that the world was against me was reinforced. When I read statistics that under 7% of the population regularly attend Sunday services in church I felt that I was part of a diminishing minority. And today there are Christians who will tell you that the world is out to get us, that Christians are always under attack, that the laws of the land are eroding our freedom to worship and all is doom and gloom.

“Whoever is not against us is for us…” makes me look at the world differently. What are the implications of this for us?

I think it should diminish our persecution complex in comfortable Britain. The majority of non-church attending Britain is not against us. There is a vocal minority of people who are actively seeking to undermine what Jesus is doing, but most people are happy that followers of Jesus exist and are active in society. “Whoever is not against us is for us…”

It should encourage us to be involved in partnerships. Not just with other Christian churches, but other agencies that are willing to work alongside us (even, dare I say, non-Christian ones). If they are willing to work with us we should see them as allies not enemies. “Whoever is not against us is for us…”

It should encourage us to have a broader, more gracious view of what God is doing in the world. His Kingdom is much bigger than the Church and when people are not actively working against his purposes and people we ought to see them as being for him – agents of positive change. “Whoever is not against us is for us…”

It might change the way we do mission. Instead of demanding a twenty page testimony and a statement of faith signed in blood to work with us in our church activities, how about we invite anyone who’d like to join us to join us, and we welcome them as partners regardless of their faith position? “Whoever is not against us is for us…”

It ought to make us view our neighbours and work colleagues differently. If they are not opposed to us then… “Whoever is not against us is for us…”

Be blessed, be a blessing.

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. “In English,” he said, “A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”

A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

One thought on “looking optimistic

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