God’s Mission vs. Christian Conversion
John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.
All too often when something really good, really heartwarming and spiritual comes along we humans take it and turn it into something self-serving and even perverse. When Jesus walked this earth he talked about and taught principles of love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. He taught this because he was fulfilling God’s plan, God’s mission. He told us this is what God is all about and we too should be all about love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness. In Luke 17:11-19 when Jesus healed the ten lepers, at no time did he ask their religious beliefs, their ethnicity, or former social standing. He simply granted their request for mercy and healed them. Interestingly, the only former leper to return was a Samaritan. And, as we all know, Samaritans were hated by Jews and Jesus was a Jew. But there was no hate, no dislike, no hesitance on Jesus’ part in affording the Samaritan mercy. After all, as previously stated, Jesus was all about God’s mission, not a Jewish mission. We might note the Samaritan did not hesitate to ask Jesus for mercy, which is quite monumental considering the hard feelings between the two cultures. Apparently, even the Samaritan sensed Jesus was on God’s mission. Whatever the case, the Samaritan was the ONLY one to return and give thanks.
If we need further proof Jesus was on track with God and not a particular religion, let us look at the scripture above. The disciple John approaches Jesus with news he clearly thinks will upset Jesus telling him “we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” And Jesus’ reply? “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me.” In other words, “If someone is about God’s Mission don’t stop them. That is exactly what I was sent for: To get people (not just Jews) to fulfill ‘God’s Mission’. Naturally the disciples were confused. Like many of us they felt they were part of a clique where only those who had been “chosen” could be part of it. But Jesus did not operate that way. His ministry to bring people on board with God’s Mission was for all people. And for Jesus, all meant all….and still does today.
You see, it is not, nor has it ever been about “Converting people to Judaism” or “Converting people to Christianity”. It has been and continues to be about “Converting people to God’s Mission.” All people.
Throughout history, as the church grew, we humans took a most wonderful and life-fulfilling ministry and turned it into a membership drive to make others like us: “This is how I believe and I want you to believe it too.” However, if we had stuck to the teachings of Jesus, I believe, and there is evidence to corroborate, our world would be stronger and better off. And that teaching is? Love, Compassion, Mercy and Forgiveness are not only the order of the day, every day, but God’s Mission for us. We would “convert” more people to helping the poor, feeding the hungry, forgiving mistakes and loving others, much more easily than badgering them to change their beliefs and be like us protestants……..all 47,000 different denominations of us. Hmmm…seems like we’re not like us either.
It is important to note, Jesus had and has people from all walks of life, rich to poor, educated to uneducated, moral to immoral, religious to unreligious, and honest to dishonest, working for God’s Mission. Why? Because he appealed to their basic human instincts by asking them to do unto others as they would have others do unto them. Love, Compassion, Mercy & Forgiveness are fundamental needs of human beings…….God’s children. Are you about God’s Mission or the mission of some organization’s game- plan for growth?