September 26, 2021 - Real or Fake? - A Reflection on Mark 9:38-48

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

A week after I met Christ, I met a group of people in the church, and the first thing they did after praising the Lord for saving me, was teach me that there was an “us” and there was a “them” and I was to make sure that I didn’t align myself with “them” but with “us”. I just stared at the speakers in mute disbelief, realizing even then, not even a week in Christ, that there was something fundamentally wrong in what they were saying, but unable to say exactly what because I was so new to the faith.

Then, of course, I started reading Scripture and I came across this passage and I realized what was wrong. The apostles were upset because these outsiders were not following “them”. Most Christians don’t follow Christ. They belong to a particular club, each of which has a set of rules, and membership to that particular club involved following that set of rules. One of the rules was that visiting any of the other clubs could result in automatic suspension of membership. Now, I know you are watching this and know what I am talking about. 

So, what club do you belong to? Each club professes to have the fullness of the truth! So, how do we show that we have the fullness of the truth? By being unloving, spiteful, and unkind to another brother or sister who professes he believes in Christ while spouting canon law? The fullness of the truth is an understanding that everything about our faith revolves around love and if we don’t have love, we have nothing. But don’t take my word for it. 

This is what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. This is the first passage of Scripture that I memorized by heart, and I recommend you do too. “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

If we don’t have love, nothing we teach or preach, nothing we sing or say, nothing we achieve or accomplish, nothing we sacrifice, or surrender has any value. We can go on ranting about how we have the fullness of our faith whereas in truth if we don’t have love, we have nothing. So whatever “brand” of Christianity we practice, we can spout a lot of dogma and quote a lot of Scripture to prove our points, but if we don’t have love, we have nothing.

So, if you are a Christian and want the world to know it, like the song goes, they will know we are Christians by our love.