John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.

Mark 9:38-41

Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from goodwill; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking that they are causing me distress in my imprisonment.

Philippians 1:15-17

Did you ever see credit being given to the wrong person for a good idea? Maybe a friend got more laughs from your joke or you saw a project be credited to someone who didn’t do the most work. It’s like that for me when I see Jesus’ ideas be credited to people like Lincoln or Dr. King.

One of my core values in talking to others is “credit where credit is due.” I like to find things we can agree on first and then, once I know what we have in common, talk about the other stuff with a mutual understanding of common ground and respect. This sometimes means pointing out where ideas come from. People might express certain values or philosophies that have their origin in the Bible or at least something in common with Jesus’ teachings.

We should try to avoid going around behind other teachers and cleaning up, so to speak. If I can talk to an individual in a productive way, I do so but it’s not helpful or needed to rail against other Christian leaders who are doing what they think is right in leading people to Jesus. God sorts those things out.

The harder and more important work is finding common ground with those who do not know Jesus and showing them that we know the unknown God (Acts 17:23) and that we can share the mystery that is now revealed (Colossians 1:26). So when we see someone teaching Jesus in Spirit and in Truth but in a way we might not fully embrace, let’s trust Jesus when he says, “Whoever is not against us is for us.”

Ethan Kirl

Originally Published January, 2020