Part of the Gospel lesson from Sunday was the story of John coming to Jesus like the tattletale you remember from elementary school, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he wasn’t following us.”
I can almost see the look on Jesus’ face.
“Really? I sent you out to do this huge job–to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons–and when somebody tries to lend a hand you stop him? Listen, whoever is not against us is for us!”
I was still thinking about that yesterday evening when I went to a progressive dinner hosted by the Richmond Christian Leadership Institute. RCLI’s mission is “Biblical and civic education for emerging Christian leaders.” In practice, select students meet once a month for eight months to learn about issues facing Richmond and to hear from civic and religious leaders about how those issues are being addressed. The goal is to create a network of informed Christian leaders here in the city who will work together to make a difference. FBC member Sally Ann Smith is a 2010 graduate of RCLI, and it was her parents, John and Shirley Seibert, who encouraged me to attend this event.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but like Hanna Zhu and Melissa Brooks who also attended, I was “pleasantly surprised.” First of all, the food was delicious, with appetizers under a big, white tent at First Tee, the main course served up in a luxury suite at Richmond International Raceway, and dessert from a “candy bar” at the Diamond (where you scoop up different kinds of candy and fill a little bag with your favorites). But at each stop we also heard something about the mission of RCLI from graduates and other Christians who care about the city of Richmond. At the end of the evening Don Coleman, a Richmond pastor, prayed, “Lord, may your kingdom come, and may your will be done, right here in Richmond as it is in heaven.”
It sounded almost exactly like something I would pray.
And that’s when I looked around and realized that all these people–Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and Non-Denoms–were doing their part to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Richmond, Virginia. And that’s when I thought about John, the tattletale, running back to tell Jesus that they had found somebody doing the work of the kingdom who wasn’t one of them.
“Whoever is not against us is for us,” Jesus said, which seemed to be his way of reminding John that bringing in the Kingdom is an enormous job. There is no way we can do it by ourselves. We need all the help we can get.
Can I just tell you that it was a comfort to me to look around last night at all the help God has given us, all the people who are trying to figure out how to bring the KOH2RVA? I’m not going to try to stop them. In fact, I’m going to encourage them to keep it up. This is an enormous job. There is no way we can do it by ourselves.
We need all the help we can get.