You might have heard your pastor or someone else say “where two or more are gathered together in my name, I am there with them.” This statement comes from the Bible verse Matthew 18:20, and it is usually used in prayer meetings or other Church services where there is a low turnout of people.
This Bible verse is often used to appeal to a small gathering to keep their mind fixated on the main purpose for which they have come to seek the Lord.
But what do we make of it if there are fewer than two people? Does it mean that God is not with you when you pray in the corner of your home alone? The answer is a definite no. Then, what does this bible verse really mean?
What is The Meaning Behind Matthew 18:20?
If you want to get a glimpse of what Matthew 18:20 means, then you must go back to the verse before it. Matthew 18:19 says “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”
But these two verses (Matthew 18:19-20) have been taken out of their main context. So, it is not uncommon to hear people put it in any of the following ways;
1. Whatever Two People Ask Will Be Done if They Agree
The question that comes with this is that “will God not answer the prayer of His people who pray alone.” In as much as prayer is good, does it really mean that God will answer all people who are at a meeting because they are less?
The fact is, God can answer prayers whether it is in the Church during the Eucharist or it is coming from a single person. All He needs to listen to our request lies in our personal faith.
A person without adequate faith will not receive any answers to his/her prayer whether prayed alone or with other people. That is why the Bible made us understand that “without faith, it is impossible to please God.”
2. God is In The Gathering of Two or More People
Matthew 18:15-17 says “If your brother or sisters sins, go and point out their fault just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”
Have you gotten the context yet? Jesus was simply talking about discipline among the believers, not the gathering of believers. Hence, Matthew 18:19-20 was merely encouraging other believers who want to remain in the sheepfold.
And just like the Old Testament was of the opinion that the fact of a case must be established by two or three witnesses (check Deuteronomy 19:15), Jesus is also saying that a single person does not make the Church. He wants every believer to be disciplined enough to know that he/she has a personal responsibility of remaining within the sheepfold.
Hence, this verse simply means that God would not have listened to or answered the prayer of someone who is not taking part in all the Sacraments. And it doesn’t matter where such a person might have prayed, whether alone or with other people.
All God wants is a genuine heart that seeks to know and do His will. Therefore, another thing to note about Matthew 18:20 is the fact that God does not want anyone to be exempted from His presence.
This is why Jesus told His people that they should point out the transgression of a person that sins to the church so that such person can be corrected in a Godly way. For the brethren that show some sign of true repentance, the Church can adequately pray for him/her to overcome his/her present challenge.
Therefore, apart from being disciplined, the verse emphasizes the need to be our brother’s keeper simply because He is always with us, watching all that happens.
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5 Ways To Apply Matthew 18:20 Meaning in Your Life
The concept of Matthew 18:20 can also be applied in our everyday life through the following means:
1. Tackle Issues At The Right Time
Enough of having a biased thought because someone offended you. If God will truly be with you, you need to have a conversation with the person you have unsolved issues.
Hence, Jesus wants you to know that it is better to let that person realize how wrong he/she is than to avoid a difficult conversation that makes people see us as hypocrites.
2. Apply God’s Love
Not caring whether it is important or not to fix our issues with others shows pride and anger. This is contrary to Jesus’ statement in the verse we have examined.
Besides, it may lead to the inability to be in tune with God. Hence, a feeling of despair; a feeling which makes us ask ourselves that “Is God with me?” This comes because we are looking at the current problem with other people from an angle of pride and anger.
It is good to be angered, but Godly love seeks to restore a person in transgression rather than be angry with him/her. A transgressor unattended may feel unloved and think that going back to his/her sin is the best.
If you will have peace of mind, you also need to ensure that your neighbor has it. Therefore, the verse also tells us how great it is to correct in love so that God can also be with us.
3. Ensure You Reconcile With The Wrong Person And Reconcile The Wrong Person to Christ
If you have been reconciled to Christ through the blood He shed on the cross of Calvary, He expects that you should be able to reconcile with the one who does you wrong and also reconcile a such person to Him so that they do not perish.
Therefore, this verse reiterates the need to, as much as lies within your power, reconcile your brother to Christ. God will be with you by so doing.
4. Let People Help You
While you might need to reconcile with other people, you may encounter difficulty if there are no people to help you. Getting the necessary help will ensure that neither you nor the person becomes a hypocrite, especially in the household of God.
5. Know That He Is With You in Times of Conflict
It is usually easy to assume that we are at the losing end when someone wrongs us. But Matthew 18:20 make it known that whether or not we believe, He is always with us.
These same words Jesus meant when he said “the father is with us” whenever we gather; whether a wrong person has been reconciled with Him or not. All He wants is the willingness to ensure that this person upholds His commandments.
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Contrary to what we might have believed before, God is always with us whether we do things/pray as a congregation or as individuals. However, He wants us to follow a due reconciliation process to ensure disciple within the sheepfold.
He doesn’t want any of His sheep to be lost because of the great love He has for us. To ignore the original meaning of this text is to assume that God is not omnipresent. He is, and He wants the believers to be disciplined enough to enjoy His abundant Grace.
CharalamposCharalampos is an Orthodox Christian who wants to help others learn about Christianity. His main goal is to help people understand the Bible and how to apply its teachings in their everyday lives. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing sports, and hiking.
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