Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Settling for less than the Truth about God's presence

I often read in people's prayers, jottings of scripture or encouragements to one another a quote from Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered in my name, I am there in their midst." This is most often quoted as a type of encouragement for people to ensure them that God recognizes their gathering in groups of at least 2-3 people and that He will be present when we gather in groups of at least that size.

We are settling when we look at this scripture in that light. If we read the context of this scripture, it is spoken specifically about church discipline and how the church should handle when people are outwardly living a lifestyle contrary to Biblical teaching, or when they are sinning against one another. When we use this scripture to encourage people that God will be with us, amongst us, we are selling the Truth of the Gospel short. This verse is way too powerful and promising for us to limit it to God being present when we gather in small groups. Besides the fact that Jesus promises at the end of the same book that He will be with us always even to the end of the age. So the actual promises of God are even better than the ones we often choose to lean on.

This scripture in Matthew is so much better than just saying God will be with us when we get together, He is promising us that when we are hurt, wounded, offended, sinned against that when we get together and pray that their prayer will be answered. How much more promising is this that God ensures that during the most difficult times of a Church, when people are actively living in sin and actively sinning against other people that prayer Will Be Done. It Will Be Answered, it Will Be Addressed, it Will Happen.

The principle that God is with us is true, but it's better than than. Jesus says that He is with us always, the Spirit is forever living inside of us, the Father is constantly without fail guiding and protecting us. When we are in groups of twos and threes and especially when we are alone. How much greater is the promise that when you are alone, rejected, hurting, afraid, in danger, persecuted, injured, that He is Always with you, always protecting, guiding and living inside of you. That is 1000 times better than the requirement that there must be two or three present.

The times we often need God's presence the most are when we are alone. Imagine those living in closed, hostile countries surrounded by tens of thousands of hostile individuals from other religions. No other believers for hundreds of miles. Can they be encouraged to know that God is present when another person or two are available for prayer? No, the Truth that He is always with us until the end of the age, the truth that He never leaves us, never forsakes us, never forgets us, is always present, always active, always knowing, always loving is so much better than the one we often quote out of context.

It is true that when two or three are gathered God is among them, but the greater, truer representation of that is that He is always there...

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