David Landegent writes an insightful article in the Aug 14, 2011 Sunday School Guide: “For or Against.” This summarizes and reproduces Pastor Landegent’s thoughts.
In Luke 11:23, Jesus says, “He who is not with Me is against Me.”
In Luke 9:50, Jesus says, “Whoever is not against you is for you.”
How can both be true?
Jesus makes the first statement after Jews accuse of him of being on Satan’s team, and many of the Jews were yet undecided about who Jesus was. “He who is not with Me is against Me” makes the point that there is no neutrality with Jesus. You have to be for Him, or you are against Him. Not deciding for Him is to be against Him.
Jesus makes the second statement when the disciples are upset that someone else is casting out demons in Jesus’ name. Here Jesus guides the disciples to not exclude and condemn believers who aren’t with them - aren’t part of their group – but who are following Jesus.
Landegent’s own words, to close: “When Jesus faces indifference… then He makes things narrow…. But when Jesus faces differences – people following Jesus, but in different ways – then He broadens things…. Indifference to Christ is not tolerated, but differences among Christians are to be celebrated. Let’s get off the fence and stand for Christ, but let’s do it in a way that works with other Christians, even if they’re not part of our group or denomination.”