"he that is not against us is for us"

Last night there was a discussion here about the meaning of church membership. Most everyone agreed that membership in Christ's body is the most important thing, but some also see local church membership as very important, for a number of different reasons. I've complained before about the way local membership is usually done in churches. Last night, though, I said that I could see value in a local gathering of Christians doing something to publicly recognize a brother or sister who enters their area and wishes to worship and serve with them, reconizing them as a member (of Christ) already, recognizing that God has already made them one with each other and is already working through this new person. Membership in Christ's body is something Christ alone can give, but we can recognize and rejoice in it.

Then this morning I read these lines in Mark:

John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is for us." (Mk 9.38-40)
I think the usual push for someone to join a local church organization is often driven by the same feeling that John expresses here. The desire to more clearly define who "us" is. But Jesus has a much wider view of what God is doing. When he sees God working through people, he recognizes members of his body, even if they are not "official" members of the group. "Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Mk 3.35)