In Mark 9:38-48, The apostles were anything but pleased when they witnessed an outsider casting out demons in the name of Jesus. They resented his intrusion, were jealous and felt threatened because he was doing their work and was not part of their group. He has no right to be using the name of the saviour. So John made a complaint in a hope of having the unlicensed preacher silenced. John most have been surprised when Jesus said that all good things come from God the Father and that doing charitable works was not an exclusive right to his followers. God moves where he will and chooses whom he will. His spirit is at work beyond the confines of established religion.
With the best will in the world, we can all fall prey to the thinking and notion that only the church can contain truth and only its members can perform spiritual works. It is a temptation we all have. When we think along these lines, we are inclined to turn the church on herself and deny that great works can be achieved outside her influence. We forget that an action can be good and Godly without being performed by a Christian. Goodness in the world comes from God, not men. Even within the church, there is a temptation of forming our own secret groupings; to promote the club mentality which is basically about being in and keeping other people out. We’ve all witnessed unhealthy rivalry between different church organizations, different parishes and yet the aim of ail is about furthering the kingdom of God. Charitable organizations, with the same objective for alleviating poverty or helping senior citizens, can be at loggerheads with one another about who to collect when to collect and where to collect. Their cause is very worthwhile but their tactics can be anything but edifying, giving an impression that goodness is a closed shop in their name and not in the name of Christ.
The gospel tells us that any person of goodwill doing their best to follow Christ’s footsteps graces the world. Every good deed contributes towards the battle against evil, so downgrading the motives behind someone’s charitable gestures amounts to a spiritual begrudge. God’s action is not limited to any class of people. He may be sending his message to us in the most unexpected and tragic events that befall us. Goodness is where we find it.