An excerpt from something I'm writing on "The Radical Nearness of God"...
Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."
I would love to have a dollar for every time I’ve heard this verse recited out of context by people with more degrees than thermometers!
It’s too often used by well-meaning, yet horribly misguided, Christians who are trying to convince others that their low church attendance or small prayer gathering isn’t completely irrelevant and that God actually “steps down from heaven” into their lackluster environment to sit with them for a spell.
The notion that the “two or three rule” is a prerequisite for God’s Presence also strongly suggests that personal prayer is a huge waste of time and walking in the Spirit is an impossibility!
Here’s one for the literalists. Does God disappear when a fourth person arrives? Jesus did specifically say, “two or three”!
I humbly submit that God is present everywhere before anyone enters any room.
What happens when we actually look at that verse in its context?
Mat 18:15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
Mat 18:16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED.
Mat 18:17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Mat 18:18 "Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
Mat 18:19 "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
Mat 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."
What if that passage has nothing to do with the possibility of Jesus ever being absent and everything to do with Him understanding the human condition and reassuring us that He’s an active participant whenever we are correcting a brother or sister in Love? What if two or three witnesses are simply there to avoid a "he said, she said" conundrum when someone resists one-on-one correction? I believe that’s exactly what’s happening there. Please read that passage again, meditate on it, ask for Holy Spirit’s guidance, and see if you don’t come to the same conclusion.
I don't have to wait for God to "show up" and I never have to "enter His Presence" or pull Him through the roof. He's always HERE...in me, above me, below me, and beside me...extending beyond what the universe can contain.
I don't need to take a pilgrimage or worry about special buildings. I worship Him in Spirit and in Truth! My body is His Temple! I'm also a precious, lively stone in His corporate Temple...not made with hands!
I don't have to get Him to Love, Value, Cherish, or Accept me. He always has and always will.
I don't have to get Him to speak.
I must simply rest and listen to what He's saying vs. trying to conjure up what I want to hear. If the melody that I'm hearing isn't accompanied by a harmony that screams, "Abba (DADDY), Father!", "You Belong!", "You, My Beloved son, are Deeply and Infinitely Loved, Perfectly Accepted, and Highly Favored!", I'm either not hearing Him or my partial hearing has tuned out the most important frequency.
He can't possibly Love me any more or less than He does at this moment. God is Love!
While I desire to be sensitive to His guidance, I don't have to be paranoid about being at the right place at the right time with the right people. The right Person dwells in me and Loves every person in every place. I have simply been given the privilege to let Him Love them through me as He directs.
My prayers have nothing to do with conjuring up a distant deity and begging Him for stuff or to do stuff. I simply get to participate in the perpetual conversation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
I don't have to worry about titles or the praises of men. He calls me His son! His delight and affirmation are more than enough!
Refuse any mindset that ever places you outside of God or God outside of you. Stop living as a New Creation Person with an Old Covenant, Adamic mentality. Asking God to "be with us" or attempting to "enter His Presence" is an extreme insult to the finished work of Christ.
His Presence is always a given. His Manifest Presence is enjoyed, through our fixed position in Him, as we receive His Love, bask in His Love, and respond to His Love. All things are of Him, through Him, to Him, and in Him! God was in Christ reconciling the ENTIRE KOSMOS to Himself!
As with all relationships, we must acknowledge, practice and enjoy His Presence in order to grow in our experience of His Presence. His Presence is constant. Our acknowledgment of His Presence is the variable.