I have pondered why if God is everywhere and if we can always pray in Jesus Name that it was important to say “Wherever any two or three gather in my name”…
Matthew 18:20 (New International Version, ©2010)
20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:20 (King James Version)
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
If God, in the form of The Father, Son, or Holy Spirit are always available or with us, why say They are there when two or three gather in Their Name? I don’t think it means bodily or that God being omniscient refers only to the Spirit and not to Christ or the Father.
Here is where I slip off into dangerous ground. I think what is being pointed out is that we are not intended to be alone. While it is true that we are never without God, we are intended to be with other people — especially other Christians. The dangerous aspect is that this also provides some checks and balances in the growth of our beliefs. Alone, even with prayer, we might go astray in our thoughts through our own imagination and weakness. The checks and balances of sharing with other believers will at least help keep us from going astray.
Going astray can happen in many ways and sometimes taking things out of context can do that. It can come from taking statements you often hear out of context like “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Taken in context with the lines before it you might get some insight:
Matthew 18:15-20 (New International Version, ©2010)
Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister[b] sins,[c] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be[e] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[f] loosed in heaven.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
b) Matthew 18:15 The Greek word for brother or sister (adelphos) refers here to a fellow disciple, whether man or woman; also in verses 21 and 35.
c )Matthew 18:15 Some manuscripts sins against you
d) Matthew 18:16 Deut. 19:15
e )Matthew 18:18 Or will have been
f) Matthew 18:18 Or will have been
Matthew 18: 15-20 (King James Version)
15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
18Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
19Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.
20For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
I find that it’s talking about the importance of the agreement of more than one person in doing some important things like approaching someone in important situations and with keeping a Church on the “straight and narrow.” It is also reinforcing that we are not alone and Christ is still with us even if not in body.
The danger I alluded to was that I am writing this alone without another to let me know if my thinking is sound or not. Is my analysis of the verse valid or not? Am I going in some odd direction? Am I looking at some strange aspect and missing the important one? A person can even pray for guidance and unintentionally misunderstand the answer hearing what they expected to hear instead of what they didn’t expect.
I think we need checks and balances in our life. Like a trucker going through the mountains, it is important to check the brakes now and again even before you get rolling too fast.
I know that God is with me no matter where I go, but it’s important to have the support of others and be answerable. It is important to ask others if our thoughts are going askew and listen to the counsel of those we respect as well as to listen for God’s answers to our prayers.
…and… I prayed about this and God answered my prayers for in fact I did not write this in isolation, even if you discount the fact that God is always with me. For I have talked with friends about the subject and my views on them and have only just realized it as I consider finally posting this article. God answers prayers and moves in his own mysterious ways. I am thankful for answered prayers.