Where two are gathered ... there I will be
Do we now have another problem with getting together in Jesus’ name?
What would Jesus make of Australia’s latest update to social distancing measures? Prime Minister Scott Morrison last night announced a limit of only two people at any outdoor gathering.
I often can be rightly accused of being flippant or too “she’ll be right” about things. That seems to be my default setting. Seems? More like: is. Even when dealing with big, important, world-changing things.
The coronavirus pandemic has taught me a thing or two, though, about taking stuff seriously. Sure, it took me a few more days than others to grasp the gravity of what’s going on. But, dear reader, be assured that like the vast majority of us – I get it now.
So given how far I’ve come with processing things of a pandemic proportions, last night I was wrestling with whether my initial reaction to the “two person” limit was too glib.
My initial reaction was to race to that verse in the Bible where Jesus is speaking about people who get together “in my name”. Those (hopefully frequent) occasions when people who follow Jesus and are living for him are gathered in his powerful name.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” assures Jesus (Matthew 18:20).
Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t think I was being too jokey or silly by thinking about Jesus first.
Instead, I wondered whether I was being too frivolous by quickly lobbing myself into that statement of Jesus – at a time when social distancing and other constraints are being imposed with the aim of doing good, not harm.
I don’t want to drive a wedge between what our Federal and State governments are calling upon us to do, and what Jesus promises. But I am finding it provocative to consider that at any time two or three (at least) gather in the name of Jesus – however we virtually are doing that now – there he continues to be. It’s almost as if he’s breaking the “two person” limit, albeit it being that potent presence of his that he’s assured us of, rather than his physical one.
But also like everything during the coronavirus crisis, Jesus’s promises on this one remains the same …
Like everything during the coronavirus crisis, new measures and changes require deeper thought than I have given overnight to the “two person” limit. Likewise, Jesus’ “I am with them” statement demands greater contemplation of its implications, particularly given that just before he says it, he’s discussing calling out the sins of fellow Christians.
Yet, like everything during the coronavirus crisis, Jesus’s promises on this one remains the same as it did before the coronavirus crisis. And it will remain so after the crisis is over (according to Hebrews 13:8 or 2 Corinthians 1:20).
So I’m thinking that, no matter what kind of isolation measures happen, I can still know Jesus is “with” both me and other followers when we gather. Via a safe, healthy medium of connection, of course.