There are a handful of scenes in the Gospels where Jesus appears to contradict himself. This of course is not the case, but if we ever get that uncomfortable feeling, we should investigate. Otherwise, doubts can begin to grow and chip away at our faith.
Today’s difficult teaching is…
“Whoever is not against us is for us.” This is from Mark’s Gospel, chapter 9, verses 40.
This appears to contradict what Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 12, verse 30, where Jesus says, “He who is not with me is against me.”
The first thing to keep in mind anytime an apparent contradiction appears is that the Bible was not written in English, and the original language of the writer should be consulted.
Another route to understanding is context. We have all had our words taken out of context and presented as meaning something completely different than what we intended. Nobody has suffered this more than Jesus.
In the first passage from Mark, Jesus is teaching his disciples about discerning people. In the second passage from Matthew, Jesus is teaching his disciples about the discernment of spirits, in particular, demonic spirits, not people.
Throughout the Gospels Jesus instructs his disciples about the discernment of ideas, people, and spirits. Some principles apply to all three and some are particular to one.
But let’s return to today’s difficult teaching, which is, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”
This is going to be a critical lesson in the years ahead. Truth, values, and the importance of character and virtue, are all under attack in today’s culture. The inevitable extension of the cultural battle is that our religious liberties will continue to come under more and more pressure. The erosion of these liberties has always been the act of tyrants and despots, and usually preceded by the erosion of other civil liberties.
It is critically important that we keep in mind that, “Whoever is not against us is for us,” because I believe times are coming when all people of goodwill, all people of faith and values, are going to need to band together or we will be destroyed.
I do not say this to provoke fear, but rather preparation. And the first preparation is in today’s difficult teaching. Be careful who you cast aside as not being for us, don’t assume that someone who is not vocally for us is against us. Jesus is clear, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”
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