Memory Verse Challenge (Week 9) – Fellowship (Matt. 18:20)
by Kyle Cox, Former Director of the Rock @MBCLouduon
Matthew 18:20 (ESV) – “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20
I have to confess; I think this is one of those cliché, coffee mug type verses that get recklessly thrown about without people taking time to understand what is truly being said. Without the context of Jesus’ teaching around this verse it could make it sound like we need fellowship of at least one other person, maybe two, to experience Jesus’ presence.
But we know that’s not true, the person pleading to Jesus alone with no other brothers or sisters in Christ around can experience nearness to Jesus. God has promised he would never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), David cried out that there is no where between heaven and Sheol that would allow him to flee from the presence of God (Psalm 139), so what is going on here?
Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18 is directed toward his disciples about the community lifestyle that will characterize their relationships with others and specifically with other followers of Jesus. In our verse Jesus explains how to handle a situation when a person sins against you.
For guys relationships can be simple. You show me respect, I show you respect, if one of us gets out of line we say something (possibly hit each other). Then we walk away and cool off. Couple minutes later we’re back to sitting on a couch watching football together. That was my perception on relationships as I grew up all the way through college, but then when I got older something happened, relationships started to get a lot more complex.
I think these relationships got more difficult because the stakes got higher. If you’re married the stakes are high, you want to safeguard that relationship and care for it. Similarly, if you are in the church the stakes can get pretty high, and one thing is bound to happen when two sinful people engage in meaningful relationships together, stuff gets messy.
That’s when this promise of Jesus’ promise of his presence is so valuable to believers because we are bound to disagree; we are destined to wrong each other at some point as we go through life together. It’s inevitable, we’re sinners. But in that moment that we are wronged or we wrong someone else what more encouraging thing could we hear than to have our Savior say I’m divinely present among you. As you render these decisions for the sake of unity in my kingdom and for my name, remember I am with you.
The result of being in the presence of Jesus should always humble us, it should never allow us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and when people are humbled in the presence of Christ it becomes possible for us to be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. It allows us to do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility to count others as more significant than ourselves. This is the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:2-5)
Prayer: Father, I am thankful for those you have placed in my life but Lord I recognize there are times when my selfishness or theirs will hinder our unity. I ask you to be near to those I am in deep relationships with, that during these times I may learn to humble myself in your presence and reflect on the grace and forgiveness shown to me in your death on the cross. Amen.