The Outsiders

Transcript Search
Ephesians 6:10-20  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  27:43
0 ratings
Hint: Click on the words below to jump to that position in the sermon player.

Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God, our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. The text for this morning's message is a portion of the Gospel reading where we read these words: "John said to Jesus, 'Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us.' But Jesus said, '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.' These are the words of our text.

I had a choice in how I was going to word this morning's theme. I could have chosen to call it The Insiders, but I chose, rather, to call it The Outsiders.

Now, we all at some time are Insiders. And sometimes we're Outsiders, aren't we? Now, one of those ways we're Insiders or Outsiders, that sometimes may create conflict, it depends on how we choose to handle it, is at St. John Kellner, there's Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. And, you know, people are really quite territorial, aren't they? I've noticed that you all tend to sit in the same place every week. Now, there may be a few exceptions, but by and large, whether it's here or at St. John, everybody sits in their same place. Which generally doesn't prove a problem until an outsider comes in.

Maybe it's a Saturday afternooner that comes into Sunday morning or vice versa, or maybe it's an 8:45 that shows up at the 10:45.

And it's not a problem until you come to your territory and somebody's sitting there. And suddenly, we realize, hey, what are they doing in my spot? Because most of the time, we aren't thinking that that spot is occupied at one of the other services.

Insiders and Outsiders: both our Old Testament and Gospel reading speak about Insiders and Outsiders. In the Old Testament reading, God has had Moses appoint seventy Elders to help him govern the children of Israel. And God tells Moses: have them come to the Tent of Meeting. And so, at the appointed time, the elders show up at the Tent of Meeting, God appears in the cloud, He speaks with Moses, and then He takes a portion of the spirit of Moses, and He places it upon the elders. And they begin to prophesy. Now, broadly speaking, 'prophesy' simply means speaking forth God's word. Doesn't have to be anything about the future. As I was reading the scriptures, I was speaking forth God's word, hense prophesying.

There's a problem: two of the elders, for whatever reason, didn't make it out to the Tent of Meeting. They stayed in the camp. And a young man comes running to Moses, and he says, Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp. And we're told that they were of those 70 elders.

So at the same time God's Spirit was put on those 68 at the Tent of the Meeting, so too, was it placed upon the two in the camp. And likewise, they prophesied - an outward sign that they had received that portion of Spirit that was Moses. But they did not continue, we're told, they were not to take place of Moses, they were to assist Moses. But that prophesying was an outward sign of their calling as elders, and that they had received that Spirit to guide and direct them in their calling. And upon hearing this, Joshua, the son of Nun, who is Moses' assistant, says "Lord, Moses, make them stop." And Moses asked Joshua, "Are you jealous for my sake?"

Why did Joshua want those men to stop prophesying? They're each one of those chosen to be Elder. Were they threatening to Moses? Were they threatening to Joshua? You see, for Joshua, he and Moses and those 68, they were the "In Crowd." And those other two were the Outsiders.

In the Gospel reading, John says to Jesus: We saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him because he wasn't following us.

And Jesus says: don't stop him. For anyone who does a good deed in my name, can't turn around and at once curse me. For anyone who is not against us is for us. Jesus' point was: yeah, that person, they're casting out demons in my name. They're not against us, they're for us. Even though they're not part of the Inner Crowd, which was the disciples. And I'm imagining the disciples were feeling a tad bit threatened. After all, just a few verses before, did they not try to cast out a demon and they failed? Then imagine them seeing somebody else who isn't part of the group casting out a demon and they're successful.

Why do we feel threatened by Outsiders? Is it not because of our sinfulness? Do we not become jealous because of our sin? Do we not feel threatened by somebody else doing what should be our job? And if it's our job - if they're doing it, they should be doing it our way?

There's a congregation. There were two men, they were both elders. One was of the nature that if he saw a need that needed to be taken care of, he'd take care of it. It was just his nature. It wasn't, you know, that he was doing it because somebody else wasn't doing their job, which may have been the case. But he was there and something needed to be done, so he would take care of it. And in the winter months, he would make sure that the sidewalk and the church step were cleared of snow and ice before Bible class, before worship, because it was an elderly congregation, and they didn't want anybody to have a fall. He'd also come in in the winter, and he'd turn up the thermostat in the basement so that the basement would be warm for Bible class. He turned on the thermos for the pastor study, so that it would be warm when the Pastor got there. Just doing it because it needed to be done. The other elder, for whatever reason, did not like that. And he came to the Pastor, and he said "Tell that elder to keep his fingers off the thermostats." And the Pastor's response to this cranky elder was, "Why? Do you like coming to Bible class in January and sitting on a cold metal chair in a cold basement?" Well, no. "Have you ever thought to come and turn up the thermostat so the place would be warm?" Well, no. "Well, then, what's the problem?" "Well, just tell him to keep his hands off the thermostat."

The other elder comes to the pastor, feeling rather down. He said, "I know that some have been talking to you about me doing things, volunteering to take care of things around the church." He said, "I'm not doing it to point fault to somebody else because they're supposed to do it and they're not doing it." (which may have been in some instances the case) "I'm here, and I might as well just - I just take care of it. It's kind of my way, I view it as part of my serving the Lord. What am I supposed to do?"

Pastor said to that elder, "You just keep turning the thermostat up when it needs to be turned up, and shoveling the walk when it needs to be shoveled. And if anybody has a problem with that, you tell them to come back to me."

So, he did. And that was the end of it.

In another instance, there's two pastors, they're sharing lunch together. And the topic of discussion at their lunch is the upstart congregation in the community. And they're both relatively aware of it. But the one Pastor is more aware of its presence, and more concerned about its presence than the other Pastor. The other pastor - the uninformed one, or the less informed one - asked "What's the big deal? Isn't that a good thing? Another congregation of people who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?"

"But they're not one of us!" the other Pastor said. To which the other Pastor repsonded, "Well, no, they're not, but there are lots of other places around town that aren't like us, either, and they're sharing Jesus."

But that's different! How's that different? Well, they're all long-established. This is a new upstart. They've come into our territory (which really meant my territory). They'll steal our sheep (which translated to they'll steal my sheep). To which the other Pastor said, "Well, you know people, they are a rather curious lot. They may go over to the other upstart church, to check it out to see what it is. What do they do there? What attracts people there? And maybe some of your members or my members, maybe they'll feel more comfortable there, and they'll want to stay there."

"I don't really see that as a bad thing," the other Pastor said. "But they're not one of us. They're Outsiders. They don't do things the way we do."

The other Pastor said, "But what if they are able to reach somebody with the Gospel of Jesus Christ that you and I are unable to reach? Isn't that a good thing? After all, Jesus says 'the one who isn't against us is for us.' They're not a pagan organization. They're a Christian congregation. They use the same Bible we use. They maybe don't use the same hymnal or sing the same hymns. And, okay, they let you bring coffee into the service with you. But maybe that's what it takes for somebody to come and hear about Jesus and be saved."

"You just do not get it. They are not one of us. They're Outsiders."

Seeing that he was not getting anywhere with the other Pastor, he decided enough of that topic, and he began eating his lunch. That was the end of it.

What difference did it make? One Pastor feels threatened by it and the other doesn't.

Yeah, maybe some members did go over there, and they saw what it was like to have coffee in the pew during the service. And they realize, well that really is in for me. I'll go back to where they do it the way I feel comfortable. And sing the hymns that I'm comfortable with. But praise be to God that there's another congregation that can reach people for Christ.

Why do we feel threatened? Why do we become jealous? Is it not our sinfulness? That pride that we've got a handle on doing it right and everybody else is doing it wrong?

How many of you like German potato salad? How many of you make German potato salad?

I bet if we were to compare recipes, they'd probably be the same, wouldn't they? Potatoes, onion, bacon. Couple tablespoons of flour. Maybe a cup of sugar. Half a cup of vinegar.

And dump it all on top of the cooked potatoes. I'm making you hungry, aren't I? Cuz I'm making myself hungry thinking about it. There's a family. They're going to have a traditional cook-out. Brats, hamburgers and potato salad. It's a Sunday afternoon. Mom's taking a nap. The daughters want to be helpful, and they asked the father "Can we start the potato salad? We'd like to start the potato salad, but we don't know where mom keeps the recipe."

Now, the father was in a bit of a quandary there, because he didn't know where the mother kept the recipe. But he told the daughters, "I know where there's a recipe. It's in this cookbook." He opened up the cookbook, told the girls: this is what you need to do. First, you need to cut the potatoes, and then while they're cooling, you can wait with making the rest of it till just before we eat. So that it's warm. Because it's always better warm. And meanwhile, the potatoes have been cooked, the girls have gone off doing other things. The mother awakens. And the father says, well, the girls started on the potato salad. They got the potatoes done, but they're going to work on the rest of it before we eat.

Then another says, well, did you give them the recipe? I said, well, I gave them our recipe. I did it again.

And the mother said that's not the right recipe. She goes over to the cupbord where the father got the cookbook. She pulls down her recipe cards, you know, that plastic file that you stuff those cards with your recipes on it. And she pulls out the card: this is what the recipe is.

The father's like, oh well, I don't really care. German potato salad is German potato salad. And I'm sure the recipes are the same, because they taste the same. I'm just going to start the fire and get the brats and the hamburgers done. Girls come, the cookbook's gone and the recipe card's there, and they say, what should we do? Follow the recipe card. It's moms. And what's the saying? If mom's happy, everybody's happy? So they go, they finish, we have the thing. Father doesn't ask the mother why she felt threatened about the recipe in the cookbook.

But when no one else is around in the kitchen, he takes a peek at the recipe card and the cookbook, and guess what? Identical recipes. But you see, the one in the book was an Outsider, and the one on the card was the Insider, and we always feel better when it's the Insider. Somebody, once said on the radio program I was listening to when I came into town, asked the question: what would your community be like if every congregation, instead of seeing them as separate, saw themselves as part of one body in a different location, worshipping at a different time, in a unique way?

And I thought, hmm that's rather interesting. I bet most of the congregations in town haven't thought about that.

And then he asked, what kind of difference would it make in your community if everybody saw themselves as the Body of Christ, serving Christ in their way, in their place, for the greater good of everybody? That could make a big difference, couldn't it?

But instead, we sometimes feel threatened: well, they're Outsiders. They don't do it the way we do it! But they still confess Christ. They still use the same scriptures. Sometimes, we've even been known to sing same hymns, believe it or not.

In our world today, it's called tribalism. Tribalism. Everything is reduced to a tribe or a group.

The Immanuelites and the Kellnerites. Biblical. Sports. It's all about tribalism. Some people root for the SPASH Panthers. Others root for the Rapids Raiders. Some have been known to root for the Brewers. Others root for the Cardinals. Some root for the Packers. Some have been known to root for the Vikings. Or the Bears. And if you're a Packer fan, the other is an Outsider. If you're a Cardinal fan, the other is an Outsider. And isn't it interesting, they all gather at the same stadium to watch the same game? To root for their team. And what would that gathering be like if the Cardinal fans celebrated the Brewer getting a home run, and the Brewer fan celebrated a Cardinal getting a home run. If they both celebrate a really good game on a really good day and simply enjoyed the sport of baseball and being able, there, to enjoy it. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

But it's kind of a Pollyanna thought, because it'll never happen. Because our sin makes the Insider and the Outsider more appealing than simply the Oneness of enjoying baseball. Or football. And the game, well played.

Just like human sin gets in the way of the Body of Christ celebrating the Oneness we have in Jesus Christ. The faith in Him may be expressed in different ways, but it's still faith in Jesus. They're not worshipping a different Jesus than we are.

And they come together, and they serve in God's name. Proclaim God's word in His name, pointing sinners to a Savior. And those living the dead man's life, to Eternal life in Christ, Jesus.

Moses says to Joshua: oh that God would, all His people would be prophets, and that He would put His Spirit on all of them. Guess what? That desire of Moses is fulfilled on Pentecost, when God places, His Spirit upon all believers. And they're all prophets. You speak the word of God to those people you encounter in your sphere of life: in your home, in your community, in the places you frequent.

You don't have the opportunity to stand up in front of everybody. Although, I suppose you could, but - no, I woudn't get upset. I wouldn't feel threatened. Maybe I'm deathly ill, and I sure hope somebody would step up. Share a little bit about God's word.

You see, we all have God's word in us. We've been to Sunday school. We have those stories. We know John 3:16 and following. We even know Jesus wept. We have a repository of God's word. And sometimes, even without our knowing it, we're sharing it with those around us. And maybe you don't do it the same way as your neighbor would, but you're not working against one another. You're not working against the Lord Jesus. You're working together. With Him. For Him.

Indeed, oh that the people of God would realize that it's not us against them. Even if they don't do it the way we do it. Maybe they reach somebody, that, you know, maybe they'd much rather have American potato salad than German.

Welcome to the party. Welcome to the community.

As Jesus said, the one who is not against us is for us. And there are an awful lot of people in this world that, together with us, are for Jesus. And that's indeed something to celebrate. Amen.

Now, may the peace of God, which surpasses our understanding, keep our hearts, and our minds in faith in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more