Who Is Against Me

A Life Against

So often in our lives, we look for who we should be against.

  • Target is selling Satanic clothes: against!
  • Netflix is promoting sex trafficking of young women: against!
  • Disney is adding sexual identity education to films for minors: against!

While these things make sense, and there are much more businesses that I could list or make arguments for, defining ourselves by what we are against rather than what we are for, plants a seed that quickly roots into the rest of our lives.

It becomes things like this:

  • Your church uses the King James Version: against!
  • Your church doesn’t use the King James Version: against!
  • The Chosen TV show doesn’t present my views: against!
  • Your pastor was quoted out of context as a heretic: against!

And the list gets as big as you have imagination or experience to allow it to grow. Looking at this pragmatically, this will only lead us to lonely lives where we isolate ourselves from every source because no one else has “quite got it right”.

A Pragmatic Look

Jesus dealt with this exact situation in the book of Mark (Mark 9:38-41) and showed us how we should see these situations. First, John comes to Jesus and says:

Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.

So, John notices that someone who is not doing things in “quite the right way” is casting out demons in the name of Jesus. He acts on it immediately and the disciples tried to stop him as well. But Jesus replies:

Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward. (emphasis added)

For the one who is **not against us is for us**. When a church is using a different version of the Bible that yours, are they against you? They are reading the Bible, is that not wonderful!? A pastor is being quoted on the internet, is that not moving the Gospel forwards!? (I’ll deal with the content of it shortly, but for now, let’s focus on the truth that, if the main voices on the internet were God-fearing pastors, the whole world would be in a better place.)

Jesus’ position on this person who is doing exactly what Jesus asked, but not in “quite the right way” is that we should not stop them. When people are doing work to advance the gospel, however “un-right” we believe that they are, we need to pray for them, support them, and encourage them towards the ways of God. This man was doing good and was helping people out of bondage from evil and he should have been supported and not stopped. If we are to emulate Jesus, We MUST define our lives by what we are for, not what we are against.

A Life in Balance

Now, here comes the point where we have to live in balance. This is not the only time that Jesus was confronted with people he should possibly be “against”. The other time is in Matthew (Matthew 12:22-37), it is a much longer passage and you will need to read the entire passage to chew on the messages that Jesus is intending to convey. However, I will try to cover the high points here.

  1. Jesus heals a blind and mute man.
  2. People are amazed and ask if Jesus could be the promised “Son of David” (Isaiah 11:1-10, 61:1-3)
  3. The leaders of the time declare that Jesus is actually just the prince of demons putting on displays for them.
  4. Jesus then explains how that makes no sense.

    1. A house divided against itself cannot stand
    2. I must be from God, and I am stronger than the demons.
  5. Then he follows it up with this: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (This ends the section in the Bible, but he continues in verse 33.)
  6. And this is the finale: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.”

So, Jesus draws a hard line in the sand. “Whoever is not with me is against me.” And how do we know who is with him? (It’s not immediately evident if we had stopped at verse 32 where our English Bibles draw a section change, but we have to remember that those section changes are there to help new readers and are not actually part of the Bible.) But Jesus goes right into how we can know who is with him: “the tree is known by its fruit”. A person will bear fruit out of what they treasure.

A Fruitful Perspective

I want to pause here and touch on something that has become apparent to me about fruit in the past couple of years. About 3 years ago, I planted around 17 starter fruit trees that I quickly planted in what we now call “Our Orchard”. Today, I am still praying to God for them to be good trees that bear good fruit. Three years later, they still have no fruit! You see, fruit is not always something that is immediate or immediately apparent, and we need to hone our skills to see the real fruit of others, not just their immediate actions.

When Jesus claims that they have bad fruit, he is basing it off of those leaders’ disciples (people who had been trained by them) and how the people around them were treated. These leaders were known for placing burdens on the people that were unacceptable. They used their high status to make a show of how “holy” they were, while oppressing those around them for not being “good enough” (to put it simply, there’s a lot more there, but we won’t go into that right now).

So, how do we know if people are “with Jesus”? We look at their fruit. And, if they are not with Jesus, they are against us. However, the inverse is also true: if they are with Jesus, they are not against us.

A Life Unified

It’s time that, as an American culture, we learned to spend more time looking at the outcomes (or fruit) of people’s lives, rather than the immediate things that we dislike or don’t agree with. It’s true, if a pastor is leading a church where no one is experiencing life-change and more and more of the community is oppressed because of his teaching, even words spoken out of context don’t really matter anymore. His fruit will speak for itself. We need to stop our superficial judgement calls based on immediate actions and approach with curiosity. Only through curiosity will we be able to learn about the real fruit and know who is against us or for us.

We need to approach our life, our family, our friends, our coworkers, everything asking ”What am I for?” not ”What am I against?”. Anyone can separate, but it takes a strong person to unify.

For Your Consideration

In conclusion:

  1. If someone is not against Jesus, they are for us.
  2. If someone is with Jesus, they are not against us.
  3. So, do not stop people who are not against Jesus, encourage them and pray for them.
  4. And look to the fruits of their labor to determine if they are with Jesus or against Jesus.

We need to be more about what we are for than what we are against. I’ll leave you with this: God’s view on what our fruits should be.

Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; your offspring would have been like the sand, and your descendants like its grains; their name would never be cut off or destroyed from before me.”
– Isaiah 48:18-19 (emphasis added)

As always, chew on this and think through how this might apply to your interactions and assessments of those around you, both among followers of Christ and without. Please don’t let this just be another thing you’ve read on the internet and didn’t find a way to apply it to your life.

If I have offended you, know that I don’t even know who you are. This is a good opportunity for you to ask yourself what made you feel offended and what previous life event you have experienced that has impacted you to feel this way. “A person confident in their stature is not offended when someone calls them short.” We are the reason we are offended, not others. And with that, have a great day!

Josh Friend

A.D. of Software Engineering at Ramsey Solutions. I build mostly using Ruby on Rails, React, Laravel, and Kotlin/Spring Boot. I always wanted to be an inventor when I grew up, so now I enjoy providing simple, intuitive solutions to complex problems.

Nashville, Tennessee

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