I can be a brat.

I must confess it, because sometimes it’s obvious. I get used to my own voice, own thoughts, own beliefs, and then everything else seems to dim in comparison.

I know a lot of bratty Christians. They are people, like myself, who are quite dissatisfied with the religious system and its cantankerous and stubborn practices, which keep people from pursuing personal excellence.

I can be a brat. I even caught myself criticizing the inception of “Christian movies” that offer an alternative to existing Hollywood fragmentation, presenting my thesis that these religious flicks are too filled with pat answers and unrealistic scenarios.

Actually, I suffer from the mindset of a predecessor who also had the name John. John the Disciple came to Jesus, explaining that they had come across a man who was casting out demons in Jesus’ name, and when the disciples demanded the gentleman come and join their flock and follow, he refused.

John was infuriated. Not only did this gentleman rebuff any attempt to get in step with the program, but he felt he had the right to have a separate outreach other than theirs.

When I read this, I had to giggle. At this point, Jesus hadn’t died or resurrected, but there was already an independent work based on his teachings. We were already starting denominations before there was even a church.

When I read John’s complaint, I feel great empathy.

Why can’t this guy just come and be part of us? Certainly Jesus will be pissed off by this rip-off artist and sue his ass!

You see, John was being a brat, too.

Jesus gives a fascinating response. It’s in two parts:

1. Leave him alone.

2. Those who are not against us are for us.

My dear friends, I don’t believe in either of these statements. I am convinced that if you leave false ideas alone, they just get “falser” (which, by the way, I know is not a word.)

And I don’t believe that simply because someone uses the name “Jesus,” they are my brother or sister.

But I am wrong. I’m also a brat–because there is one thing we know for sure:

Whatever rendition we have come up with of the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth is the daily comedy material shared by the angels and God in heaven. They certainly laugh at us.

For no one will end up being right. We’ll all be surprised at how the universe actually functions and “clicks together.”

So what is the point of getting self-righteous and bratty? I have developed two guidelines:

A. Love your neighbor as yourself

B. Don’t judge and don’t even think about judging others.

Those who do not hold these principles in supreme position are not my enemies–just not my comrades. Jesus tells me to leave them alone. It will play out.

He’s so right.

So the good news is, since every one of us is basically ignorant, there’s no need to be a brat.

The better news is, if we leave people alone who don’t agree with us, it gives us more time to enjoy the fellowship with those who share our hearts.