In Numbers 11: 25-29 and Mark 9: 38-48 we find similar situations regarding who speaks for God.
In both accounts someone has gone off and started talking about the Lord, spreading the word ... and someone else has gotten their "knickers in a knot" because of it.
In Numbers we find Eldad and Medad, back in camp ... not in the tent with the rest of the elders where Moses had called them to be. And as they started prophesying, we find Joshua who runs out to tattle on them.
In Mark we find a man driving out demons in the name of Christ even though he isn't one of the disciples. And there is John doing his tattling to the Lord.
In both accounts the Holy Spirit had descended upon these men and acted through them to prophesy or drive out the demons. In both accounts the Holy Spirit had chosen to move through men who were not "part of the group". And in both accounts the men through whom the Holy Spirit moved, were criticized by other men.
Interestingly enough both Joshua and John recognize that the Holy Spirit has moved through these men to do the work. They seem to recognize that it isn't the men pretending to prophesy or the man pretending to drive out demons but the work of the Holy Spirit through them ...
and yet, they still criticize these men for the acts.
If we ask the logical question of "Why?" and look at the accounts, the trouble that Joshua and John both seem to have is that these men aren't "part of the group", "a member of the club", or "one of the gang" so to speak. And somehow in their minds that meant the men must have been doing something wrong and needed to be stopped.
So, what did Eldad and Medad and the man who drove out the demons do that was so bad that it left them being criticized for their actions? They allowed themselves to be used of the Lord.
But, ... but, ... but, ... but, ... but, ... How is that a bad thing?
As we find in both the answer from Moses to Joshua and the answer from Jesus to John, it isn't a bad thing at all. Moses basically tells Joshua, "who cares if they aren't standing in the circle with the rest of us? The important thing is that the Holy Spirit is moving through them and they are prophesying in the name of the Lord." And Jesus tells John, "whoever is not against us is for us."
Wait now just one minute! That's it? That's all there is to the story? Where is Eldad and Medad in a furious rage that Joshua criticized them? Where is the man who drove out demons getting his say about how John just isn't walking in the fruit of the Spirit because he's criticizing him? Where are the weeks of self pity because "he said something mean about me"? After all, they could have gone down those paths. I mean the "bosses" in both accounts took their sides and not the side of the tattlers. Why didn't they rally the troops to put down Joshua and John?
I find myself wanting more to the action, more to the account. I want Eldad and Medad to stand up and fight for themselves and tell Joshua, "What a nitwit you are. Can't you see that the Holy Spirit is moving through us?" I want the man who drove out demons to confront John and say, "What is wrong with you? I got rid of the demons in these people. Can't you see I'm doing what is right?"
After all when someone "wrongs" us or speaks against us, isn't that what we are supposed to do? Aren't we supposed to confront them? Aren't we supposed to set them straight? Aren't we supposed to stand up for ourselves? We can't just let those rumors about us continue to circulate, can we? We can't let that criticism against us go, can we?
For me it is comforting to find that Eldad and Medad and the man who drove out the demons didn't confront their accusers, didn't attack and demand a retraction. For me I see that the Holy Spirit not only chose to work through those men to do the work of the Lord, the Holy Spirit also surrounded them and protected them from the evil of men's jealousy and false accusations ... and He did it far better than any man could.
It is comforting to me because if the Holy Spirit can do it for them, He can do it for me as well ... and He will ... if I let Him.
The thing is the Holy Spirit is far less picky about where the breath of God is blowing than we are and that is a good thing because it means that it doesn't matter if we are loners or socialites, geeks or athletes, pastors or lay men, choir members or those who show up for Christmas and Easter services only by duress from our families ... the Holy Spirit is only looking for someone who is willing to be used in whatever way He will use them.
When we are talking about our service to the Lord, in spreading the word, in showing His love to others ... it doesn't matter if we have a college degree or drive a big car or know every scripture by heart. It doesn't matter if we worship with our hands in the air or our behinds in the pew. It doesn't matter if we serve on the church board or teach a Sunday school class. It doesn't matter if we are 23 or 93 or anywhere in between. All that matters is that we are willing to serve.
After that ... Our Lord God will take care of the rest.