Pet Bible-Thumping Peeves: Where Two Or Three Are Gathered

“Where two or three are gathered, there am I in their midst.”
I have heard that sentence used all my life to encourage a small gathering that their faithful presence is rewarded with God’s presence. Where do I start?
1- What I do, where I go, and what I think does not impact God’s presence. As the Psalmist declared, “If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.” (Psalm 139:8) As Jesus said later on in Matthew, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
2- The number of people gathered for prayer meeting of Sunday worship is not what Jesus was addressing. God is with me already. If two of us get together, God is already there. God was already with each of us en route, so saying that our gathering makes a difference makes no sense.
3- Jesus was actually talking about people being reconciled to one another. That is the theme of Matthew 18. Jesus was talking about forgiveness and the lengths we should travel for the purpose of being reconciled with one another.
Let me offer this translation of the passage. It fits better with the context than our traditional stress on seeking God’s blessing for a low turnout at church: “For where two or three are reconciled (joined together, made friends, or united) in my name, there I am in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20)
When we do the hard work of becoming reconciled after a disagreement, we are inviting Jesus to be the healing ointment that draws us together in unity. We don’t need to twist Jesus’ words to make us feel better about a low turnout at church. Instead, we should be focusing on the hard work of getting beyond our disagreements and arguments to work for unity in the body of Christ. When we do that, we make Christ’s presence a reality, the glue that effectively binds us together.
©Copyright 2018, Christopher B. Harbin 


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