Jesus is reported as saying both that ‘Whoever is not against us is for us’ (Mark 9.40)
and ‘Whoever is not with me is against me’ (Luke 11.23). What he doesn’t seem to realise is that these two statements, each ridiculous in its own right (there is always the third option of not caring either way), mean exactly the opposite of each another. The first is inclusive and relatively friendly. The second is hostile and exclusive; it says, in effect, ‘If you don’t give me your unquestioning devotion you are my enemy.’
This is not the claim of a fully-realised divine being, but of a paranoid megalomaniac. As with much of what he said – or is reported as saying (which is not the same thing) – Jesus reveals himself to be very human; flawed and completely egotistical.
He sets up, as all cult leaders do (and, indeed, as all human groups have a tendency to do) an ‘Us and Them’. Elsewhere, Jesus describes Insiders and Outsiders, with all the rustic charm of a first-century peasant, as the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25.32). It’s still a favourite pastime of Christians to segregate themselves and others into these two categories. They do it with real sophistication these days, of course (I mean, ‘sheep and goats’… c’mon) but it still comes down to Us and Them:
If you’re a mainstream evangelical you’re Saved, while those who don’t subscribe to your brand of Christianity are Lost or Of This World.
If you’re a Bible-believing fundamentalist you’re Regenerate but others are Unregenerate (or Degenerate).
If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness you’re one of the True Church; other believers are part of a False Christianity.
If you belong to the cult formerly known as the Children of God, you’re of The Family and everyone else is part of The System.
If you’re a Roman Catholic you’re the Only True Christians, while all others are Damned.
and so on, throughout all of the 34,000 different Christian sects and denominations.
It is an essential part of the Christian faith to regard yourself as belonging to the only True Church. Everyone else – from those who don’t buy into religion at all to every other faith group – is wrong. They’re an enemy of Jesus because, not being for him or with him in quite the right way (your way) they are, according to the warped logic he expresses here, against him.
The so-called Prince Of Peace proudly declares that he came to bring strife and division into the world (Luke 12.51), which, to this day, remains his greatest achievement. His idiotic words about being either for or against him have proven to be a gift to every sect, cult and church that has ever existed.