12/15 Matthew 18:20

20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

This is frequently quoted in a way that is out of the context in which it was spoken. Jesus was teaching how to resolve conflict in the church. As a last resort, the offender was to be taken before the congregation. If they would still not repent, they were to be considered a non-believer. When the true church is united in a judgment, then we can know that the Lord was with them in the decision.

A true church of Jesus will have a heart of compassion. Jesus was telling His disciples that He would be with them so that when they faced these difficult decisions they would not be remorseful for doing what had to be done or second-guess their decisions. The Lord was with them in making the decisions.

Therefore, when we use this verse to say the Lord is with us when we worship together with two or three people, we distort the meaning of the verse. The Lord is with one person that worships Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). There is something special about uniting our hearts to worship, but it is not that the Lord is only present when two or more gather in His name. It is the unity of the body of Christ, sharing our hearts for the Lord, and the encouragement we derive from it (Hebrews 10:25).

Suggestion: When you hear the verse used out of context, you are presented with a teaching opportunity. Use it with humility and respect while aiming to encourage those you are instructing.