Gospel / Matthew 18:15-20:
Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
What does “1” plus “1” equal? Our Faith teaches us that it equals something much more Infinite than “2”. It teaches us that “1” Believer plus “1” Believer equals God. That’s God the Creator of this world and all of Eternity. We might be tempted to ask, “Well, how can that be? That all we have to do is gather in His name and He will be there with us?” While God is too complex for us to understand in this world, His ask of us is typically quite simple, yet usually somewhat hard. It’s simple to go to Church and worship. It’s simple to be part of a Faith Group. It’s simple to love and serve everyone the way that Jesus did. But, what about that hypocrite at Church that says one thing and does another? What about the new Pastor and his boring sermons? What about those Men or Women who get together each week around the premise of a Bible Study, but always end-up talking about other things, too? How can we serve the criminal who just got caught stealing our possession or worse? God’s requests for us are meant to be hard. An Angel once told me that this world is our Spiritual Boot Camp to get us ready for our work in Heaven. Without our pruning, we won’t bloom into the Saints that God designed us to be. Without tribulation, there cannot be any character-building and perseverance that eventually breed Grace (Romans 5:3-5). Just like an inventor cannot grow without hard-work and lots of failure, we cannot grow if we’re not challenged to do so. It’s the same for all of us – the athlete, the Parent, the business person, the teacher, the Pastor, etc. But, to try to do it alone without other Believers is to choose to ignore an offer from God. Sure, God can show-up where and when He wants to – including in our solitude and inner prayer. But, He also promises to show-up when we gather in His name. And, there’s great Power in doing so. We start to become on Earth part of God’s future Spiritual Army in the sky (Revelation 19:14). By joining our shields together in Christ, we become united in Him and are able to help each other get home without any man, woman, or child being left behind. Soldiers get this premise given the extreme challenges that they are often subject to. If you won’t gather with others, because you don’t need it, maybe you should consider doing it for the guy across the road or the woman who just lost her Husband; or to the stranger. Do it for the “other guy”. Maybe doing it first for others allows us to serve like Christ first loved us. For by leaving His Heavenly throne to come and die for us, He set the bar for servitude and love. But, by so doing, we all are able to come Home to Him with the Heavenly Hosts. In the end, our service benefits others and God Blesses us, as well. That’s a “win-win” for sure.