Jesus has friends, but He also has foes. The hearts of His foes are full of pride. His friends humble themselves before Him.
A popular maxim found in various places throughout Christian history is this: “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.” It’s a helpful saying: Christians must certainly unite around the gospel, but leave room for faith and freedom in others areas that are not as essential to the core of our faith. Jesus had a similar discussion with His disciples, and He used the opportunity to not only affirm that we must be charitable, but also careful. Jesus has friends, but He also has foes.
Read Mark 9:38-41:
- What are some of the things that you believe and practice as a Christian that differ from what other Christian friends believe and practice (i.e. baptism or certain spiritual gifts)?
- Have any of the differences ever caused tension or division between you?
- Why did John try to stop another person from trying to drive out demons?
- Why did Jesus approve of the other man’s actions?
Read Mark 9:42:
- Who are “these little ones” Jesus is referencing? Is there anything you can find in the previous verses in Mark 9 to help you discover who He might be referencing?
- How might one go about causing the downfall of such a person?
- What does Jesus’ “millstone” metaphor imply about the kind of judgment God reserves for those who might cause the downfall of a little one?
Read Mark 9:43-48:
- What is the contrast between Jesus’ warning in these verses and the warning in verses 38-41?
- In your own words, what do you think Jesus’ point is in these verses?
- John’s concern in verse 38 was that someone else wasn’t representing Jesus well. How does Jesus turn this concern on John?
Taking it Home:
- How can we set an example of showing love and kindness towards Christians in our neighborhoods who don’t spend their Sunday mornings with us?
- Are you as concerned about your own obedience as you are others? How can you grow in regards to this?
Ways to Pray:
- Adoration: Praise God for being the Good Shepherd who knows and cares for all of His sheep.
- Contrition: Repent of any tendency to exclude or dismiss Christians who differ with you on non-essentials.
- Thankfulness: Express gratitude to God for being gracious and patient toward us when we’re ignorant.
- Supplication: Ask for the Holy Spirit to produce in your heart the fruit of peace, patience, and kindness.
Other Scriptures to Engage with this week:
- Psalm 37
- Philippians 4:4-14
- Psalm 119:161-168
- Proverbs 16:1-9
- Isaiah 59:1-15
- 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24