In Luke 9:49, 50, Jesus teaches us what to do when we find someone having a ministry that is totally different from ours.
Someone was casting out demons, but he didn’t join the disciples. John asked Jesus to stop him. But Jesus told John to leave him alone and to let him continue that ministry. You stick to your calling and let them fulfil theirs.
Many Christians are so taken up with the importance of their own ministry that they feel that everyone should be doing that. “But if the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be; and if the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?” (1 Corinthians 12:17). A mature Christian realises that God gives different ministries to different people.
If one wants to do evangelism, and another wants to do social work, let each fulfil his own ministry. Something of Christ can be manifested through both. But let us not criticise one another. There is variety in creation. God did not make every flower the same colour, the same shape or the same size. The rainbow has so many different colours. So also is the body of Christ. Some people feel that nobody should go to a Bible-college because they themselves did not. Others feel that everybody should go to a Bible college, because they went themselves. Both are wrong. God can use both methods, according to the calling of each one. Narrow minded people however never see anything other than their own ministry. Here is a word for such people: “Thank God for every ministry, and stick to your own.”
In Luke 9:52, we see Jesus coming towards Samaria. This was the city where a year earlier there had been a great revival. Through one sinful woman who was converted, the whole city had been drawn to Jesus (John 4). So Jesus sent messengers ahead of Him to make arrangements there. But this time, they did not receive Him (verse 53). Perhaps many who were converted in Samaria, had decided to get rid of their prejudices against the Jews and leave their dead religious systems and follow the Lord. This must have disturbed their religious leaders; so they decided not to let Jesus into the city again. So James and John wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans. Jesus rebuked them saying that He had not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them (verse 55). If some church kicks you out, just humble yourself and go somewhere else. That is what I have done more than once.
In both the above examples, Jesus was trying to enlarge the hearts of His disciples. In many Christian groups, I have seen that the leader often has a large heart, but his followers are narrow-hearted, because they don’t know God like their leader.
John Wesley and George Whitefield were two great preachers in England in the 18th century. John Wesley and his followers believed and preached that one could be lost after being saved. George Whitefield and his followers preached that once a man was saved, he was saved forever. But Wesley and Whitefield were good friends and when Whitefield died, it was Wesley who conducted his funeral. One of Wesley’s followers later asked him, “Will you see George Whitefield in heaven?” John Wesley replied, “George Whitefield was so bright a star in the firmament of God's glory, and will stand so near the throne, that one like me, who am less than the least, will never catch a glimpse of him.” Wesley’s followers were narrow-hearted. But Wesley himself was a humble, large-hearted man who esteemed Whitefield above himself.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon