The Renegade Disciple

Please lock the door. Unauthorized people have been coming in.
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/4171379513/">Cory Doctorow</a>

Mark 9:38-41

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw this guy casting out demons on your behalf, but he wasn’t one of us, so we told him he had to stop that.”

“Don’t stop him,” Jesus replied. “If people are doing great things on my behalf they’re not going to be two-faced and curse me. If they’re not against us, they’re for us. I swear, if someone gives you a cold drink because you’re part of the movement, they’ll be rewarded.

The Jesus movement is not copyrighted. If anything it’s explicitly anti-copyrighted. Anyone can do it. Everyone is welcome to be a part of it. You don’t need anyone’s permission.

If John and the first disciples are any indication, Jesus followers have always had trouble with this concept. Today, there are thousands of groups claiming to follow Jesus. That’s a good thing. People all over the world are giving the Jesus movement a go. Unfortunately, many of those groups are trying to claim that they are the only “real” or “true” Jesus followers. That’s not such a good thing.

I once heard a story about a woman who claimed to be following Jesus. When asked where she had been baptized, said, “I baptized myself in my bathtub.” The person who told the story was of the opinion that she was certainly not a real Christian. She was unauthorized to carry out this kind of ceremony. She was not a member of any “real” church. She was a renegade, a “new ager,” an imposter.

I suppose she might have been all those things. But, if she was doing great things for Jesus, the truth is Jesus doesn’t care. She’s for the movement. She’s probably more for the movement than a lot of “official” church people. Maybe she’s not for the institution of the church, but again, the evidence from Mark suggests, Jesus doesn’t care. Leave her alone. Don’t stop her.

You might even try to be a little more like her. I’ll drink to that.