"For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” - Matthew 18:20
Have you ever had a spat with a partner or friend? It doesn't even have to be a big thing, just enough to bring tension into a relationship. You can try to ignore it and tiptoe around it, but until you address it head-on, it impacts your entire relationship, and you can't experience the same joy you used to feel with that person. Sadly, this is just part of our ordinary human life. We don't live in perfect harmony all the time.
In understanding today's verse, we must look at the context in which Jesus used it. Jesus is laying out a plan for conflict resolution within the church. First, we talk with the person directly to see if it can be resolved. If that doesn't work, we include one or two others. If these other witnesses’ impartiality cannot resolve the issue, it is to be brought to the church -- Christ's community of believers. If that still doesn't work, we take it to the civil authorities. But by attempting all these other solutions first, the hope is it can be resolved peacefully by the body of Christ.
So what does Jesus mean when he says, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”? Whenever we come together, we are to be in one accord. Even, or maybe especially, when that reason may be addressing unpleasantness. Let there be no doubt, God desires harmony within his church and will help us. When we gather with repentant hearts, coming in peace towards each other, we experience God's presence.
Loving and just Father, we give you thanks for your understanding and compassion. Through your Son, you've given us hope for a peaceful resolution when we have disagreements with our brothers and sisters. You desire us to come into your presence with love in our hearts. God, we confess as humans, we sometimes fail in loving and forgiving as we should. When that happens, we know Satan delights and thrives in our heartache. Precious Father, help us to love each other more completely. Where there is hurt, allow us to heal—forgiving where forgiveness doesn't seem possible so that we may rejoice in your glory. Amen.