“God Needs an Audience”
Misquote: “Where two or three are gathered, God’s there too!”
I’d always found this popular church cliché confusing, as it indicates that God needs an audience to show up. The basic truth is that God and our Christ are in heaven – the kingdom of God – making preparation for coming reconciliation of the saints to our God . . . and judgment. In the meantime, those who have entered into a covenant with God through our Christ’s sacrifice have received the Holy Spirit to teach, comfort, and intercede for them until His return.
At any rate, here’s the biblical reference taken out of its context:
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”—Matthew 18:20.
What you’ll discover if you read the entire chapter, keeping verse 20 in its context, is that the theme of Matthew Chapter 18 is salvation from coming judgment.
Verses 1-5: Those who are ‘heaven-bound’ will have to be ‘like’ children in their innocence and humility.
Verses 6-7: But, beware of the things that can keep us from being children of the most-high God and headed for His kingdom.
Verses 8-9: Do what you have to do to avoid sinful behavior and the judgment and wrath of God that will come as a result to those who are not His.
Verse 10: Intend nothing against those who are our God and Christ’s! This appears to go along with the rest of the verses that tell us to not cause our brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble.
Verses 11-14: Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth was to save the lost from coming judgment and punishment. This directly supports God’s will – His plan of reconciliation with mankind – and, again, is why we must not put up any roadblocks as admonished in the previous verses.
Verses 15-20: Those who are children of the most-high God must do what we can to aid in His plan of reconciliation by identifying and correcting sinful behavior in others within the Church. Quoting from the Torah in verse 16 (see Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15), Jesus is telling His disciples that His children within the Church must bring at least two other followers with them to address the sinful behavior if the offender refuses to listen during private correction. Why two or three witnesses? Failure to repent (change of action that comes from a change of heart) of truly sinful behavior will lead to a spiritual death sentence. This requirement of two or three witnesses was implemented to justly condemn a person to death in ancient Israel (i.e. Deuteronomy 17:6).
To summarize, we’re to believe and act appropriately out of belief. Those actions should often involve teaching, discipling, and correcting sinful behavior for the benefit of our brothers and sisters as we do what we can to aid our God in accomplishing His plan to reconcile mankind to himself at the end of time.
Remember – God doesn’t need an audience of two or three to show up . . . just you. As a follower of our Christ, you already have His Spirit within you and that connection to the Father of Spirits!
For more information regarding the return of our Christ and our ‘marriage’ to Him, and of the end of our world as we know it, please consider studying my very comprehensive guide “Finding the End of the World”. You’ll easily find it in paper and electronic format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and www.ronbraley.com.
Next week, we’ll look at some relatively harmless misquotes (but misunderstandings nonetheless) as we continue to explore common misquotes and abuses of Scripture: “In Jesus’ Name” & “The Bible says you can’t add to or take away . . .”.