“Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” – Matthew 18:19-20
A few words about community
Derek Maul, Upper Room author, continues thinking about Christian community in this second of three posts.
In Matthew 18 (the entire chapter), Jesus comes at us fast and hard, offering a series of counter-cultural ideas:
We need to be humble, like children.
Don’t do anything to compromise a child.
If your hand offends you, cut it off.
Go after lost sheep, and lost church members.
Forgive one another till you lose count of how often you have forgiven.
If you are not a forgiving person, then don’t expect any mercy when it comes to your own sins.
Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
Hard teachings, radical ideas, but all with this common thread of “living in community” that runs through the chapter.
Verse 20 offers the well-known concept of “where two or three are gathered together in my name…” The idea is almost exclusively used as a reference to prayer. But I like to think about it as a call to intentional community.
Two or three gathered together is community. And community is pretty much a necessary condition if we want to experience anything of Jesus in our relationships. We limit our understanding when we imagine this principle related to an “eyes closed with an Amen at the end” scenario. Whenever there are two or three of us, doing life together, in community, then Jesus promises to be a part of the equation.
Whenever there are two or three of us, doing life together, in community, then Jesus promises to be a part of the equation.
ACKNOWLEDGE JESUS. Spiritual community may be at play simply because believers are in the same place at the same time. But, just like greeting a friend at a party, it’s only polite to acknowledge Christ’s presence. The Lord is funny like that. Never one to force the issue; never one to barge in and elbow his way to the front; not about to cough discreetly to announce his presence. Jesus knows where he’s not wanted.
Simply acknowledging Jesus takes our experience of community up a notch. We’re not so much “guarded” when we host Jesus, it’s more that we are challenged to bring our very best to the experience.
Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”—Luke 24:31-32
Article by Derek Maul, published at the Upper Room Books website, September 2012