He Followeth Not Us
by Inglis Fleming
The danger is ever recurring of self-importance among Christians in every age and association. It was so with the disciples of the Lord during His ministry on earth, and it has manifested itself down all the centuries since, and is evidenced in our own time.
The disciples at the foot of the Mount of Transfiguration had been unable to cast a demon out of a boy. Their spiritual condition had not been equal to the emergency. Prayer and fasting had been called for, and in this they had been found wanting. It was but a little while after that, voiced by John, they are found saying, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him because be followeth not us” (Mark 9:38). The repeated statement,
“he followeth not us,”
showed that self was prominent in their thoughts. It was not, “he followeth not Thee,” nor, “he loveth not Thee.” No! it was not Christ filling their vision, nor that they were jealous of His glory. It was that pride ruled their thoughts. The pride of office and privilege led them to arrogate to themselves the right of casting out demons. It was pride that led to Satan’s fall, and this self-conceit, which is “the condemnation of the devil,” led them to oppose the work of God through others. One can seem to hear the serpent’s hiss in that repeated occurrence of “US.”
And was it not this same pride of life that led the disciples to say of the woman of Canaan, “she crieth after US” (Matt. 15:23). They were feeling apparently that it was a reproach that they should be subjected to the importunate calls of such a Gentile sinner. For this reason it was, no doubt, that they requested the Lord to “send her away.”
But reverting to the incident in Mark’s Gospel, how gracious was the Lord to His erring disciples when He said, “Forbid him not, for there is no man which shall do a miracle in MY name, that can lightly speak evil of ME.” It was Himself and not themselves. “Me” and not “Us’
But then, having wounded to heal, He added, “He that is not against us is on our part.” Associating them with Himself in the service of blessing others. Then saying, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in My name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you he shall not lose his reward.” Blessed encouragement to them and to us, to serve others who “belong to Christ,” and for that reason alone.
Then a warning follows, which must have been a salt word for their consciences, as to what they would deserve, if they caused to stumble one of these little ones “that believe in Me.” Notice the occurrence of these expressions: “In My name” (v. 39); “In My name” (v. 41); “Ye belong to Christ” (v. 41); “Which believe in Me” (v. 42).
Precious words these for the consideration of everyone who desires to serve Christ’s interests here. His glory is to command their thoughts. His own are dear to Him beyond expression. He must be the centre in all our service. Others may differ from us in this or that matter, but if they glorify Him, they are not to be slighted or offended in any wise. They belong to Him, and the least thing done for the least of His own is counted as done for Himself. The least thing done against the least of His own is counted as done against Himself.
“Ye belong to Christ”—these words should ring in our ears and hearts, so that we should treat every one of His own, as if it were Himself present personally. Alas! selfish interests may fill our thoughts and lives, and so our judgments in spiritual things as well as in natural things, may lead us to slight or despise our fellow-believers, and thus slight and despise the Lord Himself in His own.
A well known preacher told how, in the American city in which he lived, there was a Hall, over which in large letters stood the words:
A storm of exceptional violence arose, in the course of which the first three letters were blown away, leaving in result:
“. . . US ONLY.”
And knowing those who met in the building beneath the words, he thought that the remaining words described more correctly those who met there.
Alas! if our attitude and conduct towards any of the Lord’s people should ever lead to such a conviction in any mind. Our doctrine and manner of life should bring Christ and not ourselves before those who hear and see us day by day.
The work of the Holy Spirit with us ever has this in view, that more and more Christ Himself may fill the vision of our minds, and through us may be presented to others, with whom we come into contact.