For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them. Matthew 18:20 NLT
One night, when I was tucking my youngest son Luke into bed, he asked me a question about this verse out-of-the-blue. Dad, he asked, Didn’t Jesus tell us that He would be with us always? Yes, He did, I replied. That Scripture is the last verse in the book of Matthew, chapter 28, verse 20, at the end of the Great Commission. Luke went right on like he had been thinking about this, Then why did Jesus say ‘when two or three gather in His name He is there’? I thought He was always there! If that is true, what does this verse mean?”
What a great question especially from such a young boy. It stumped me for a moment. I think the answer has a lot to do with why we need to make gathering as a community of faith a priority both in small groups and large. When we gather in His name there is something different that happens from the communion that takes place between just you and the Holy Spirit. There is a manifest sense of God’s presence because His body has assembled. Let me say that again so you get the full impact. When we gather, the literal Person of Jesus is present because we’ve come together.
How is this so? When we come together we bring our various gifts, passions, and callings into one. The combination isn’t just addition it is divine, exponential multiplication. No wonder the verse just before the key verse, Matthew 18:19 NLT says, I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.
How could God make such a powerful promise? When the Body of Christ (those who follow Jesus) gathers there is a greater level of discernment, there are a variety of gifts active, and there is a greater sense of God among us. That is a rich faith climate! We need to gather in His name in large groups and small. There is a dynamic difference. It is good for you, and it is essential to accomplish the mission of Christ.
No wonder the writer of Hebrews 10:25 NLT put it like this, And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another. A great rhythm for fellowship with God and man is to meet daily with God privately, meet weekly in a small group, and meet weekly in a large group. You think more clearly, worship comes easier, the exercise of the gifts flows, and you’ll sense God is there in your midst. It doesn’t get any better than that on this side of eternity! And He is with us–always and especially when we gather!