Summary: A message on Christian unity based on shared commitment to Biblical faith. Suitable for joint meetings of local churches from various evangelical denominations.

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How Large is Your Family?

Text: Luke 9:49-50

Text Introduction: Some of the incidents in the ministry of Jesus are well-known. Others are mentioned briefly and then the story moves on. The incident in my text is one of those. We shouldn’t miss its implications.


Imagine the scene.

Remember that earlier Jesus had sent the Twelve out to preach the Kingdom of God. It was a breathtaking experience: First, they were used by God to heal people and free them from the clutches of Satan; then they had the privilege of announcing what God was doing through Jesus. In the midst of this mission John and one or two others enter a village to tell the people about Jesus.

The disciples call the people together and say something like this, “We’ve come to tell you about a wonderful man named Jesus.”

To this the villagers reply, “Oh, we know about Jesus.”

Then they take the puzzled disciples to another part of the village where they observe a stranger doing what they had been doing,

Quickly, John and the others approach this stranger and say, “Stop! You must not do this.”

The stranger replies, “If you knew Jesus, you’d know why I must do this.”

With great indignation the disciples retort, “What do you mean ‘if you knew Jesus?’ Why, we’re some of his closest followers. We were commissioned to proclaim the Kingdom of God. And we didn’t see you at the commissioning service.”

As the stranger calmly returns to his work, he says, “Well, I’m sure Jesus wouldn’t mind what I’m doing.”

The disciples rush to Jesus to tell him what has happened.

John says, “There’s a man who’s liberating people from the power of Satan. He’s doing it in your name but he’s not a member of our group. We tried to stop him but he wouldn’t listen.”

Then Jesus says something like this, “You’re right, John. He’s not a member of your group, he’s a member of mine.”

There’s a touch of tragedy in this little story. Here’s a man doing a power work of spiritual liberation. He’s bringing honor to Jesus. Yet, the disciples tried to stop him.

Jesus saw the danger of such a chauvinistic spirit and moved quickly to squelch it. He knew the challenges of the future could not be overcome if such a spirit prevailed.

In this little incident, Jesus shows us how we ought to respond to others who minister for him.



Lots of people see the work of the church as a kind of competition. We need to understand the peril of a competitive spirit.

A few years ago a mother in Channelview, Texas, tried to hire someone to kill the mother of her daughter’s chief rival in upcoming cheerleader tryouts. She thought the girl would be so upset that her daughter would easily win. That’s competition gone bad.

When we’re motivated by a spirit of competition, the losses and defeats of our fellow-Christians become our gains. We hope that the fallout of another church’s problems will somehow benefit us.

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