I have said a few times that Brian McLaren makes me think... sometimes I have considered what he says and disagree (surprise!)Yet more often I agree. That is the case with this latest thought.
I was reading a Generous Orthodoxy in which he makes the statement on page 262:
'According to Bosch: "We cannot point to any other way off salvation than Jesus Christ; at the same time, we cannot set limits to the saving power of God... We appreciate this tension, and do not attempt to resolve it." This means that anathemas and damnation can be invoked rarely if at all, which will disappoint all who have grown accustomed to resolving the above paradox by means of their invocation. (This ingrained fire-and-brimstone rhetoric so characteristic of Euro-American revivalism persist stubbornly where it has been exported, and will probably come back to haunt us.)
For the rest of us, rather than resolving the paradox via pronouncements on the eternal destiny of people more convinced by or loyal to other religions than ours, we simply move on (as Jesus told his disciples to do), giving all the respect and honor due those who are not convinced by our message (with the meekness Jesus taught), rather than calling down fire from heaven on them (as Jesus told his disciple not to do)."
I agreed with the thought, yet did not remember when Jesus has said not to call down fire from heaven. This intrigued me as I hear often and even on this blog people have questioned my teachings and well whatever else they decide to... I guess.
I took some time to search out the scripture that Brian had referred to and found it.
Luke 9: 49. "Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."
50. "Do not stop him," Jesus said, "for whoever is not against you is for you."
51. As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53.but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.
54. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?"
55. But Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56.and they went to another village. (NIV)
Here we have someone casting out demons in Jesus name... John was a bit upset (?) I mean, "He is not one of us!"
It seems he was concerned on at least to levels:
- This person was casting out demons in Jesus name. This person had power. This is a bit like when Jesus had sent out the Seventy two in Luke 10... They were given power by Jesus. I see the first issue would be for John... How did this person get power?
- This leads us to the second issue... "He is not one of us!" John seems concerned that this person is not one of the elite... the top 12... yet has power, which would only come by Jesus if Jesus gave it to him!
Notice one thing also; Jesus is in a time crunch... He is looking at what is urgent and what is important. I do believe there are times to directly address an issue such as Paul did with the girl with the familiar spirit in Acts 16, (which is really another interesting topic in itself as this "fortune teller" , proclaimed "These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved... Which leads to the question, why was this demon possess girl proclaiming Jesus as the way of salvation, but, like I said, another topic for another time.
The time crunch was that it was time to get to Jerusalem... the thing is he sent delegates ahead... like in the parable in Matt 22, and also Matt 25. Jesus is going to go to a Samaritan village but he finds out, they don't want him there as they hear he is going to Jerusalem. You see, Jews and Samaritans did not like each other. In fact there was much hatred for each other. This angered the disciples... they wanted to get back at the Samaritans, for, "they are just dogs... less than human... those half breeds!" I can imagine them thinking. "Let's call down fire from heaven and get them!!!!"
First off did you notice that James and John say to Jesus, (forgive me for smiling and laughing a bit inwardly, I am sure I have fallen for this many times myself, possibly even very recently! LOL!) James and John say. "Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?" Did you see it? Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?Â
Power had gone to their head! LOL! They forgot where their own power came from... and how quickly they did that... on one hand John is pondering how this guy get power from Jesus to cast out demons, ( I know I am inserting my own thoughts here, yet I think that is the gist of the thought that is expressed), then the next moment... think the power is from himself and James!
But, here is the kicker...
Jesus turns and rebukes them! And Jesus just bypassed the village.
I see at least three things here in play.
- A power struggle. Where does this power come from? The disciples often forgot it was Jesus.
- Jesus rebuked the disciples.
- Jesus does not confront but bypasses the village but without rebuking the people of the village.
Now I am not a Greek scholar nor have I ever said I was... In fact I have said I was not... LOL! I do have a trusty old Strong's Concordance and a good understanding of language and words. With that God has blessed me much... often if I think I need further insight or need or more confirmation that my "hunch" on a word is right, I go to my friends who are Greek scholars. Here is my hunch...
I looked up the word rebuke. I see this word thrown around a bit yet, it has been a while since I looked it up. This is from Strong's:
Strong's Ref. # 2008
from GSN1909 and GSN5091; to tax upon, i.e. censure or admonish; by implication, forbid:
KJV--(straitly) charge, rebuke.
When Jesus "rebuked" them it was strong language. It was in a way saying, "SHUT UP! YOU ARE NOT EVEN TO GO THERE!"
Meaning... simply... that they were infringing on God's territory of judgment. They seemed to miss the mission (as I often wonder if many of us have today), and as stated by Jesus Himself; Luke 6:37. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven... and also in John chapter 3: 16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (NIV)
John goes on to say this about the Father and judging...
John 5: 22. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23. that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him. (NIV)
So the Father judges no one but has said that Jesus will judge all yet, Jesus says right after this in chapter 8: 15.You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. (NIV)
You see, we must be careful as we are human and judge by human standards... which is not always just... yet there is one who will judge, yet at this time does not, yet when he does it will be just. The mission of Jesus was to save mankind... and that is our mission even now!
(Now, if you feel like I am railing against you personally I am not, it is that other self righteous person that I am speaking out against, so unless the Holy Spirit is speaking to you and you sense that you are judgmental and condemning of others... then listen to the Spirit. If you think I am railing against "you" on a personal level, chances are I don't even know you, so just think it is about someone else for now... LOL!)
I believe the judgment happened at the cross. At the cross we were at the mercy of Christ who could have just called down angels from heaven, gone home then sent fire and destroyed us! Yet, he hung on that cross to take on the judgment of God, and justify mankind so that we can be saved! Be careful with what I said there as I know some will attempt to twist it. I am not saying all were saved at the cross, but we were justified and redeemed. Yet, until one comes to Jesus, as David Bosch stated, one will not be saved.
It is counter productive to condemn and cast judgment (since we are told not to by Jesus) and then think we have done the work of the Father... we only deceive ourselves in to thinking we are ministers of peace and mercy and grace, yet we are just self righteous idiots who forget where our power comes from, and think we are the ones doing the work of the FatherÂ not Jesus in us doing it. We even seem to think we are better and greater that Jesus as He said of himself in John 5: "19. Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these." (NIV)
We need to be humble and realize we are to totally depend on the Father as Jesus did and God will do great things in us... through Jesus who lives in us! We can do nothing by our self, unless we see Jesus doing it.
We are to treat others with respect... We are to not judge for ourselves about others spiritual destiny... for we should know our God is faithful and is doing more than we could ever know to save that person. I pray we don't get in the way and stop that from happening by our own selfish desire to "be like God." (Gen 3:5)