Two issues took place with Jesus’ disciples in Luke 9 to which I can, to my shame, relate all too well.
First, the disciples rebuked a man doing the work of God in Jesus’ name who didn’t follow “their group” (vv.49-50). What was their motive in doing so? They revealed it in what they said: it was simply pride in their own superiority (“He” needs to follow “us!”). Jesus simply reminded them that they were all on the same team.
The second issue occurred when Jesus was rejected by the Samaritans because of His intention to go on from visiting them to Jerusalem (a cultural rejection). (vv.51-56) The disciples, obviously infuriated about how they treated their leader (Jesus), had a fleshly response; they wanted to call down fire from heaven to consume them. In other words, they wanted to be God’s instruments of judgment against them. But, Jesus gave them a spirit check. He had not called them to be the instruments of His judgment, but the instruments of His grace. He had not sent them to execute His judgment, but to seek and to save men from it. The spirit He desired them to have was one of compassion, not of condemnation.
Here is where it hits home for me. I have often struggled greatly with both of these issues. In my treatment of others outside my own “group,” I have often been guilty of a spirit of pride in my own superiority over others (and that of my “group”). Furthermore, when I feel that someone rejects my leader or my “group,” I have often been guilty of wanting to take their judgment into my own hands, instead of showing them compassion and leaving the judgment to the Lord.
Neither spirit is pleasing to Jesus. Neither spirit is reflective of Him. Neither spirit will bring others to Jesus. Neither spirit is the one I want to continue to have.
It is possible to follow Jesus without rejecting and casting judgment on all those you feel aren’t doing so the same way as you.