Many people believe that Matthew 18:20 is only about prayer meetings, or church discipline, or how to get a sinning person to repent and return to proper living.
This Scripture can possibly be applied to such circumstances, but in reality, it is a Scripture about relationships. Matthew 18:20 says this:
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
Certainly, Jesus is with us even when we are all alone, as He promised elsewhere that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). But where two or three are gathered, it appears that Jesus is with them in a special and particular way. This is especially true when these two or three are gathered with the purpose of looking for Jesus and listening to His voice for guidance, comfort, and instruction.
Now, it is true that in the immediate context of this Scripture passage, Matthew is writing about church discipline, and how the church can restore straying Christians back to fellowship with one another.
But in the broader context, the entire chapter of Matthew 18 (and even into chapter 19) is about relationships.
M. Scott Boren, in his book The Relational Way, provides these five topics as the content of Matthew 18:
- Relating to children
- Not doing anything to cause others to sin
- Going after those who go astray
- Confronting someone in sin
- Forgiving others
Matthew 19 goes on to talk about the issue of divorce.
With all of this in mind, Matthew 18:20 comes at the center of all these Scriptures on relationships, and as such, gives the key to them all. In a relationship, put Christ at the center, and recognize that He is there leading and guiding.
How do you put Him at the center? By looking for Jesus in the actions and words of the other person. Look for ways that Jesus is manifesting Himself in the other person toward you. Listen for things Jesus might be saying to you through the other person.
When we do this, we realize that Jesus is the tie that binds our relationships together, and He is the one that is working within the relationship to strengthen and guide it to better reflect the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Scriptural Books on Relationships
Here are some helpful books for learning more about what Scripture teaches on the topic of Relationships. Click on a book below to see pricing and reviews.