Where is the Church?
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
As we approach Easter with the restrictions on meeting in place, one might wonder “Where is the Church?”
While I absolutely detest the idea of not gathering as a community of faith to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church has not gone anywhere. Why? Because as many of you know, the church is not building, it is the people. During this time of social distancing the scripture found in Matthew saying, “Where to or three come together in my name, there an I with them” becomes very important.
However, this verse is not primarily talking about gathering to worship. It is talking about gathering to bear witness. If you search for the phrase “two or three” in the Bible you will find, in both the old and new testament, the call for two or three to come together is so that true testimony can be given. Here are some examples:
Deuteronomy 19:15 (NIV) One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.
2 Corinthians 13:1-2 (NIV) This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others,
In fact, the passage I took from Matthew 18:20 is preceded by a passage talking about exerting authority in the church. The passage talks about authority on earth and authority in things spiritual. Here is the whole context:
Matthew 18:15-20 (NIV) 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
So where is the church? The church is where the people of God and the Spirit of God come together. What is the purpose of two or three coming together? To be witnesses, give true testimony, bind up or set free, seek agreement and approach God with our agreed upon desires. In other words we come together to live out the Kingdom of God on Earth.
The church is where the people of God and the Spirit of God come together
So while we may not be able to meet at the level of community that we would like, we can still function as the church. This Friday and Sunday we gather to bear witness to the mercy of God as Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us and suffered the dreadful consequences of sin upon the Cross. We bear witness to the Resurrection and the impact this event in history has on our lives. In our prayers we seek to bind the darkness away from the hearts of those we love so that they can be set free in their souls. We can boldly ask of the Lord in unity of heart to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and set the captives free.
This is our right and duty as the church.
So this Good Friday and Easter, as we are unable to meet in the same room, which I miss and is important, we can still be the church. If you know some people who might otherwise not attend a church service, invite them by simply sending a link! Also be willing to share who Christ is to you, be a witness, and pray for those God sets on your heart to be free from darkness and let loose into his light.
Being the church does not depend on our location, nor does it does not depend on our schedule. It depends on God’s people being in communion with God’s Spirit, no matter where we might be.
Just a reminder, there will be a live stream at 7:00 PM on Friday, and on Easter Sunday we will take communion, so please have your elements, the bread and wine or juice, ready!