“…he that is not against you is for you.”
For many people outside the Christian fold there is confusion about the many different kinds of Christianity offered to the world. They want to know why there are so many different denominations among God’s people. Some denominations seem very open to the idea of fellowship with other Christian groups and some are “closed shops”.
The great apostle Paul was in a Roman prison for preaching the Good News about Jesus. He had friends on the outside who were carrying on his work while he was in prison. They loved Paul and desired nothing more than his speedy release from prison.
Sadly, there were some people on the outside who were preaching Christ in the hope of alarming the authorities into thinking that the Jesus movement Paul represented was getting too powerful and dangerous. If these enemies did enough preaching they hoped the authorities would deal harshly with Paul.
Paul was not interested in being critical of his enemies who preached Christ and desired to stir up trouble for him. In fact Paul said of the situation, “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” Philippians 1:18 (NIV)
Paul thought that what was important was that Christ was preached. So Paul said, “What does it matter?” (NIV) He was not going to oppose anyone who preached the Gospel. Rather he took pleasure out of the fact Christ was being preached.
Now, as we look at the context of our verse today from the Gospel of Luke we see the disciples of Jesus had adopted an interesting mindset. They came to the conclusion that only their group could be genuine, true followers of Jesus. There seemed to be an unhealthy party spirit among them that saw others doing a work for Jesus as the enemy. It seems unbelievable, but they were intolerant of others who did good deeds in Jesus’ name.
In the case of Paul those outside the group were enemies who preached Jesus insincerely, in the case in Luke 9 the person was a true believer in Jesus. Anyone who truly believes in Jesus is not to be forbidden or excluded just because they are not part of our group or denomination. There should not be any “closed shops” among the people of God.
Perhaps today you have been excluded by some of God’s people because you do not belong to their special class of Christianity. Do not be discouraged. You may be rejected by some misguided Christian people, but Jesus accepts you and that is far better. You are as much welcomed by Jesus as any Christian of any age. So learn to say with Paul concerning your rejection, “What does it matter?”