The temptation of us and them


Partisanship is ugly in politics, but even uglier in the church, because there it should not exist between followers of Jesus Christ.


I want us to understand Jesus’ attitude towards partisanship between those who follow him. 

Sermon Plan 

We will discuss the temptation to point to us, heretics and stumbling blocks. 

The temptation to point to us 

In Mark 9:38-50 the disciples stopped a man preaching in Jesus’ name, as they said, “because he was not following us.” This has continued for two millennia. The church grew large in the Greek and Latin-speaking worlds. After a thousand years of disagreement, they divided, each vilifying the other because they were “not following us.” In recent centuries Rome and Constantinople have only slightly modified their exclusive claims because of these Jesus’ words. Anciently, there were many churches outside the Roman Empire in places like Britain, Ethiopia, India, China and Armenia who had no part in the Great East-West Schism. In recent centuries there has been an explosion of churches following the teachings of Jesus. There is no need to offend them or point them to us, but point everyone to Jesus and be at peace with each other. 

When heretics follow Christ 

I was once part of a movement that followed Christ, but misunderstood his teachings. Patiently Jesus led many of us into the Gospel’s truth. In Mark 9:38-50 the disciples wanted to stop a man preaching in Jesus’ name because he did not follow them. What attitude ought we to have towards those who are not of our flock and who may even have doctrines that we believe are wrong? Christian movements often begin in enthusiastic heresy and explosive growth. If Christ is leading them they eventually align with historic church teachings. When we try to stop those who follow Christ because they are not following us, we are looking to ourselves to correct their error. We are actually impatient with Christ’s leadership. He will lead them into all truth, what we call orthodoxy, at his merciful and gracious pace. 

Causes of stumbling 

When Jesus warned against causing little ones to stumble (Mark 9:38-50) he spoke specifically about those “that believe in me.” In that context the stumbling would be to cause people not to believe in him. Jesus is always faithful to his promises, but some teach false promises that Jesus did not make, causing people to stumble when those false promises are not fulfilled. Many people enter and donate their so-called seed money because false gospels sound attractive. Jesus did not teach any such thing, but positive thinking gurus and motivational speakers have found great profits in using Jesus’ name. Some people stumble and leave Jesus altogether when those false promises fail. Thankfully, some few are digging deeper into their Bibles and realizing that Jesus made no such promises and are leaving for churches that actually teach what Jesus taught. 


Partisanship between Christians is contrary to what Jesus taught. All churches have wrong things in their traditions and doctrines, but they are all right if they follow Christ, because if we truly do, then he will make all things right in his time.

For more information on the history of the church
A Church History by Mahan, Milo [Hardcover] (Google Affiliate Ad)