God's Kingdom Does Not Revolve Around Us

The Gospel of Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  47:00
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If you have your Bibles let me invite you to open with me to the book of Mark chapter 9.
We will begin reading in Mark 9:30-37 that Drew preached out of last week and we will continue on into verses 38-40 that we will give our attention to this week.
Mark 9:30–37 ESV
30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”
That was last weeks’ text, now lets look at this week’s text and pray for understanding.
Mark 9:38–41 ESV
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 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. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 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.
Lets Pray
Everything about Jesus’ message was counter cultural.
In fact it contradicts still today our natural human instincts.
We are presently studying a cyclical pattern in the gospel of Mark where
Jesus teaches his disciples the truth about his mission...
His disciples misunderstand that mission
And Jesus corrects their misunderstanding and further applies his message to their own lives.
In verse 31, Jesus clearly teaches once again that his intention is to lay down his own life.
Mark 9:31 ESV
31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”
the intentions are clear…
the mission is plain…
but the disciples still don’t get it.
In fact, they begin to argue about who will be greatest in the kingdom of God
And again Jesus corrects them.
he emphasizes things like humility and servanthood and caring for those like a child who cannot care for you in return.
Jesus’ counter cultural message and mission was to become their counter cultural message and mission And furthermore it is to become ours.
Now in today’s passage, we see the disciples striving for their own greatness once again but in a different way.
Mark 9:38 ESV
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
A couple questions rise to the surface from verse 38.
Firstly, who is this man who casted out a demon in the name of Jesus?
I think we need to remember here, that the 12 disciples were not the only people who were responding positively to Jesus’ message.
Jesus had been teaching, ministering, and healing for some time at this point.
He had traveled to a number of villages, and towns.
On one occasion he had taught and fed 5,000 people.
On another occasion he had taught and fed 4,000 people.
Along the way we have met several who have come to Jesus in faith and have received his blessing and his healing.
Consider just the people that Mark has included in the story thus far.
Consider the Leper, the Paralytic, the man with the withered hand.
The man consumed with a legion of demons.
The woman who touched his garment
Jairus and his healed daughter
The Syrophoenician woman
The deaf man.
The blind man.
And the young boy who had the demon causing him to have seizures.
All of these people and many more met Jesus, and experienced the power of Jesus, and presumably many of them went on to believe that Jesus really was the promised one.
They went back to their normal lives, hoping and believing that Jesus was who he said he was.
Some of them no doubt, would again be confronted with things such as demon possession.
What would they do when confronted with the same ailment that perhaps plagued them or their loved ones their whole lives.
Verse 38, tells us exactly what at least one new follower of Jesus did..
Mark 9:38 (ESV)
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name…
Apparently, there were some who cried out in the name of Jesus to cast away demonic activity, and it actually worked.
Through their faith in Jesus, and the proclamation of Jesus’ ultimate power and authority, God almighty actually drove away the evil spirits through these individuals.
It was an incredible miracle pointing all the more to the supremacy of Jesus.
so whats the problem?!
Why would the disciples try to stop someone doing a great work in the name of Jesus?
Well there is a key phrase at the end of verse 38.
Mark 9:38 (ESV)
38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
Notice the word “us”
John lumped himself in with Jesus as if everyone else was supposed to be following Jesus + the 12 disciples.
Now remember that just a few paragraphs prior, the disciples were unable to cast out a demon, seemingly because they had begun to rely upon themselves more than they were relying on the Lord....
But now John has a problem with other people actually doing mighty things in the name of Jesus, because they are not following him and the other disciples....
Judging from the context, John’s motives here do not seem to be the purest.
It appears that their may be some pride going on here. Perhaps even some jealousy.
John’s concern here is not purely about Jesus’ Kingdom.... this is a concern about John’s kingdom and the kingdom of the other disciples.
Listen to how one commentator puts it,
Mark 9:38 (Mark (PNTC)): In complete disregard of the lesson of the preceding story, John regards his call as a disciple not as a call to service but as an entitlement of privilege and exclusion.
John’s report that the independent exorcist “ ‘was not following us’ ” is depressingly ironic. We should expect him to say “ ‘because he was not following you.’ ” It is not a little presumptuous at this stage of discipleship for John to think himself and the other disciples worthy of being followed. This is yet another echo of their inflated self-importance (so 9:34). Gundry rightly notes the absurdity of the Twelve’s telling the independent exorcist to stop doing what they could not do in 9:14–29.
This leads us to Truth #1

Truth #1 God’s Kingdom Does Not Revolve Around Us

We Christians worship a God who is eternal.
He is all powerful.
He is all knowing.
He is fully present in all places and he is fully capable of working in billions of people simultaneously.
Jesus ministry and message of repentance, faith, and forgiveness was not only for John in the 1st century, but its for you on the other side of the planet 2 millennia later.
One of the most profound realities to consider is the fact that God is doing so much all at one time.
Consider just the miracle of prayer. He hears our prayers and speaks to us through his Word.
When I pray, I have the full attention of God, while at the same time millions of people around the planet may be praying to him as well And they have the full attention of God.
I do not have a little sliver of God’s divided attention split between millions of others.
God is so beyond our comprehension that he is able to fully and entirely hear the prayers of millions of people simultaneously.
He is providentially working in the incalculable details of your life at the same time that he is providentially working in the incalculable details of the newest believer in Southeast Asia.
Our God is a big God… and his kingdom of believers in Jesus is a big Kingdom that he is expanding to every corner of the globe and to every generation.
It is our tendency and our temptation to think that God’s kingdom revolves around us, our church, and what God is doing or not doing in me personally and in my circle of influence.
God is not only doing more in our own context then we realize… he is doing trillions of things in other contexts through other people we are not even aware of.
One of the great tests of our kingdom mindedness is whether we are able to truly and genuinely celebrate what God is doing in someone else’s life and ministry.
All of us are by nature kingdom builders.
God gave Adam and Eve the commission in Genesis to bear the image of God to the world, to fill the earth, and to reign as representatives of God’s rule…
But sin corrupts that desire.
because of sin we have a desire not that God’s image be known, but that our own image, our own name, our own renown be put on display for all the world to see.
We want more control, more recognition
we want the borders of the kingdom of me to be always expanding.
This is the motivation behind your slander, and your gossip
as you talk badly about someone else, you simultaneously build yourself up and put yourself on display as the model example.
This is the motivation behind some of your ambition,
the accomplishments and accolades you desire, are not totally pure ambitions. Your desires have mixed within them ambitions for glory, to prove to others that you are a certain way, to build a statue of yourself according to the image you would like to be worshipped by others.
This is the cause of some of your bitterness, and its why you are so quick to be offended and so slow to forgive.
The too easily offended are almost always those who actually think too much of themselves and their own kingdom.
We are offended past the point of forgiveness, because we see someone else’s failure to treat us a certain way to be the most ultimate unforgivable Act.
God’s kingdom does not revolve around us, yet our sin causes us to live as if it does...
rather than rejoicing in the fact that God was at work in another brother in the name of Jesus to do wonderful things… John shows a disdain for that work, because it was not connected to his inner circle of privilege…
John misses the glory and joy of the kingdom of God expanding … because he is too concerned with the kingdom of John expanding.
And Jesus corrects him.
Mark 9:39–41 ESV
39 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. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 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.

Truth #2 God’s Kingdom Unites Around Jesus and His Mission

Jesus argues that the individual they tried to stop from ministering was actually an individual that was for their same cause.
For starters, he actually did a mighty work.
Apparently this individually really did rebuke and cast out a demon.
And not only did he do it, but that he did it in the name of Jesus.
he did it for the purpose of proclaiming and displaying the person and power of Jesus not himself.
Jesus argues that such an individual “belongs to Christ”
In other words…. “John… the important thing is not whether or not they follow you…, the important thing is whether they are following the same Jesus.“
Jesus says, “the one who is not against us, is for us”
In other words, this brother who was doing ministry in the name of Jesus is not competition to us.
He is not working and striving so that he can over come us.
He is for US, because he is for Jesus.
He wants what we want, the glory of Jesus put on display….
He who seeks to have Jesus’ name known and praised is not a competitor… he is a co-laborer.
There should be a certain unity that accompanies those who labor in the name of Jesus no matter where they live or what other differences may divide.
We miss this as individuals, but we also miss this as a church culture here in America.
Churches here in America can unintentionally become their own little self-interested kingdoms with no care for other churches or the mission in the society at large.
Modern churches have their own brand, their own culture, their idolized leaders, and if they are not careful they can begin to think that they are the only church in the world and the only Christians in the world that God is using.
A church can wrongly and unintentionally conclude that God’s primary work in the world is through them… and so they turn inward.… they forget that God’s mission is not simply to expand the kingdom in one church, in one place, under one leader but that God is working to get the name of Jesus to be put on display through local churches in every community to every corner of the planet and to every generation.
The mission we have modeled for us throughout the New Testament is one of cooperation and companionship with other churches and other believers to fulfill the great commission.
Throughout the New Testament, believers in Jesus care about, support, and even pour themselves out for the kingdom expanding work through other churches in other cities simply because those Christians proclaim the same Jesus.
Consider Paul’s words of encouragement when the Corinthian church gave of their finances to support the work of the Jerusalem church going through famine.
2 Corinthians 9:12–15 ESV
12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Consider Paul’s relationship with the Roman church.
they were to be the catalyst of Paul’s missionary work in Spain where the gospel message had not yet gone.
Paul writes to the church in Rome.
Romans 15:23–26 ESV
23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.
Consider the help Paul received from the Philippians church along the way And how Paul was willing to then send one of his own disciples to minister in Philippi to help them.
Philippians 2:19–23 ESV
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me,
The New Testament is full of examples of believers in Jesus from different cities and cultures united together around one Jesus for the purpose of expanding his kingdom to the ends of the earth.
The most important thing about you is that you belong to Jesus and that draws you into a family that includes our own local church, but it extends globally to every other genuine follower of Jesus on the planet And together we seek to spread the message of God’s Kingdom where it has not yet gone.
This is why two weeks ago, a like-minded church from Miami came to help us continue our recovery from Hurricane Ida.
This is why next week, a group of pastors and their members from Aberdeen, MS will be coming to help us continue with building back our church.
This is why a group of us will be going to Peru to help train under-resourced pastors and their wives deep in the Amazon Jungle on the first week of May.
This is why we invited Julio to study here and be discipled here so that he can be a part of healthy church planting in Southeast Asia.
This is also why we have been striving to help First Baptist Church of Luling over the last several months.
For those of you who do not know, I have been meeting with First Baptist Church of Luling’s pastor search team to provide support, and guidance.
FBC Luling lost their pastor just before COVID and they have been without a pastor For over two years now.
On top of that they were hit hard by the hurricane… and their attendance and presence in their community has been on a slow decline for decades.
This is a church in a position much like First Baptist Saint Rose was in years ago before they closed down for a period in order to be replanted as Saint Rose Community Church.
On March 6th, I will be preaching their at FBC Luling on the doctrine of the church and I will be providing a training for them on Wednesday nights for Six weeks...
At the very least, we want to help them find a pastor and get on a path toward health so that the 14,000 people in Luling will have a community of faith who both proclaims the gospel and makes to the gospel visible in their community.
We don’t know what will happen with this, but I do want to ask the question, if God works in such a way that we have opportunity to help replant that church in Luling, would you be willing to go? Would you be willing to move into Luling and to help see a new work start for the sake of the Kingdom of God in Luling?
Its not about us, our one church, our one community…

Truth #2 The Kingdom of God Unites around Jesus and His Mission

Therefore, we serve and we encourage and we build up others who belong to Christ.… and there is eternal reward to be found in that ministry.
Mark 9:41 ESV
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.

Truth #3 Christ Rewards Kingdom-Mindedness

Jesus emphasizes two things: the act of giving a cup of water… and the motivation being a common belonging to Christ.
In other words, Jesus emphasizes the reward found in Kingdom-Mindedness
Kingdom-Mindedness is seen in acts of service no matter how small and seemingly insignificant that are not motivated by personal gain in this life, but rather an eternal return in the next.
Jesus says there is reward that cannot be lost when we simply serve someone in order to serve them because we love Jesus and his mission.
There is unfailing reward not just in the big glorious moments of preaching to thousands.…
but in the very small moment of giving someone a cup of water simply because they are a fellow brother or sister in Christ.
There is eternal glory and reward in your forgiveness of a brother or sister in Christ.
There is eternal glory in the meal train we are creating for Clarence who has should surgery tomorrow and will be on bed rest for the next several months.
There is eternal glory in tarping a roof or handing out supplies to those in need.
There is eternal glory when you watch someone else’s children not out of personal gain, but just to support your fellow believer.
I was encouraged by a conversation with Darrin Godbold this week.
Darrin and Natalie have five children… and they are watching Terry Telschow’s four children at his house for three days next weekend so Terry and Katie can get a much needed break and get away together.….. thats nine children in one house for the glory of the Lord….. they will by no means lose their reward.
There is eternal glory with simple things like encouragement of a fellow Christian or the simple act of listening to a fellow Christian.
Kingdom-mindedness is displayed when we serve and pour our selves out not necessarily to gain in return anything in this life or to expand our own kingdom…, but rather to simply see the kingdom of God expanded in someone else’s heart or even through a church on the other side of the world.
Do you think like this?
Do you think more in terms of God’s big kingdom or your small kingdom?
Allow me to leave you with a few takeaways:

#1 Ask God to Test Your Ambitions

We are always conflicted by our sinful flesh and the Holy Spirit within us.
There is always a mixture of pure desire and selfish ambition.
I am sure there was a measure of John’s concern with this man that was pure.
Perhaps he was concerned that this individual would corrupt the message, or that they were trying to draw attention away from Jesus.
But Jesus‘ response plus the context of the surrounding passages, shows that there was more going on in John’s heart.
As there always is in our own heart.
Ask God to test your ambitions. Are they from the Lord and are they for the right kingdom?

#2 Pray for the Mission of God Through Others

One of the ways we cultivate Kingdom Mindedness is through our prayers.
Pray for others to grow spiritually.
Pray for the salvation of others.
Pray for our church and its ministries.
Pray for other churches in other parts of the world.
Pray for missionaries and for us reached people groups.
As you pray for God’s Kingdom in a big world, your sense of your own little kingdom will shrink all the more and God’s Kingdom will grow all the more.

#3 Rest in the Bigness of God and His Kingdom

When you consider the great need in the world…. It can be overwhelming.
2 billion people live in places where they may never hear the message of Jesus.
We are called to Go and make disciples of all nations.
And we are called to pursue that mission faithfully with our whole lives…
There is far more to be done then any one person in any one lifetime can do…
You can either be overwhelmed by that…, or you can rest in that.
God has not called me to be the savior of the world nor has he called me to be God in the world.
he has called me to be obedient and faithful with the giftings and opportunities he has put in front of me… and that is freeing.
I’m not the king and it doesn’t rest on my shoulders. I am simply a servant in the king’s court… he gives the orders and secures the outcome… and that is a peaceful thought as I pour out my life for his kingdom.

#4 Cherish Christ-Centered Unity

There will always be people in your family, your life, and even in your church who you have difficulty loving.
There will always be people in your family, your life, and even in your church with whom you disagree with strongly on important matters.
But one of the things that puts on display the power of the Gospel message of Jesus and his kingdom…, is our ability to look past minor difference and our ability to love in unity and work together for the mission because we cherish the same gospel of Jesus Christ.
For the last 2,000 years the church has partaken in a particular act to symbolize our unity around the person and work of Jesus…. That act is the Lord’s Supper.
Listen to how Paul describes the Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 10:16–17 ESV
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion…
Jesus instituted a new symbolic meal to remind them of what Jesus really came to do.
He picked up the bread and broke it and said this is my body Broken for you.
He poured out the cup and said this is my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sin.
And he looked at his disciples and said do this in rememberance of me.…
The Lord’s Supper is a moment where we reflect on what Jesus did on the cross to reunite us to God.
His blood sacrifice paid the price for our sin and condemnation So that we can now have fellowship with God now and forever..
But just as he reunited us to God, he also reunited us to one another. We share of that same cup and we can now have fellowship with one another now and forever In the Big kingdom of god.
With the act of the Lord’s Supper we reflect on our lives, we confess our sins before God, and we rejoice in the forgiveness provided in Jesus.
Its also the dividing line in a room like this. The Lord’s Supper is meant to be partaken of only by those who know that they are truly followers of Jesus.
Paul actually warns not to partake in an unworthy manner.… so if you are not a Christian this morning. If you are not a born again baptized believer in Jesus please just pass the basket and spend this time in reflection and prayer.… and I plead with you… you can trust Jesus for the salvation of your soul right now. In prayer to him you can confess your sin, ask for his forgiveness, and put your trust in him from your chair right where you sit.
Lets pray to that end for those among us who do not know him, and lets rejoice over our Christ-centered unity
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