“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Context is a tricky thing; come to think of it, it can also be inconvenient.
I wouldn’t mind too much if I were able to report to you that if 2 or 3 of us come together and agree that God should provide each of us with 10 million dollars tax-free, that Jesus has promised to do so, but sorry, Jesus has done nothing of the kind!
Of course, that hasn’t stopped people from teaching it that way…
If you read the previous part you know that the context is entirely different; Jesus is re-enforcing His remark in 18:18 about loosing and binding. His context is the discussion of how to handle issues relating to sin in the church so as to restore people to their healthy relationship both with God and the community of believers. We need also recall that He is speaking to the disciples, who He is in the process of training to lead the early church; He is not making a blanket statement for everyone, in my view.
As I mentioned earlier, dealing with sin in the church is not an easy business, and it requires wisdom, spiritual maturity, and prayerful reflection, for without these things, we tend to give a knee jerk reaction that doesn’t seek to restore the offending party, but instead seeks merely to punish them. Punishing is clearly not what Jesus is teaching.
With all that I have said in these two posts, I should add something here: Having been in church leadership for more years than I like to count, I realize quite fully that there are situations in which the sin that a person is engaged in brings danger to the congregation; an obvious example would be someone working with children who has sinned in a way that violates a child, or a man in church leadership who has been known to become involved with women who are not his wife… I’m sure you can think of other examples. A leader would tend to disqualify himself from a leadership role in such a case, a person with such a history shouldn’t work anywhere around children, any more than a recovering alcoholic should take a job as a bartender. In such cases, and I sincerely hope that you never have to deal with this sort of thing; we must concern ourselves with the safety of the flock, and the redemption of the offender; we cannot do so without wisdom, spiritual maturity, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in these verses, Jesus is promising to do His part.
In the next passage, Jesus continues to re-enforce this theme with a parable; you won’t want to miss it!