When Two or More Gather

What have we learned from experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic?

Many claim it is the “new normal” along with every protective measure and device we’ve tried so far. They insist that everyone just get used to it, despite disagreements.

Some wonder aloud if the pandemic is God punishing earth’s inhabitants.

Both positions are unconvincing. God may have permitted the pandemic; but He did not cause it, inflict it, or exacerbate it. How do I know? After all, I’m just an ordinary human being.

Certainly, He is capable of creating a deadly pandemic. He is almighty. If He can create the Earth, stars, Universe, and send plagues as He did upon Egypt’s Pharaoh, He surely has the power to send a pandemic-causing virus.

But the pandemic, whose devastation was amplified by man’s hysteria-driven responses, is not His creation because it is not Him. The pandemic’s creation and its subsequent proliferation are not of His character. Examining wisely what we have thus far experienced, we can recognize the marks and tell-tale signs of the one or ones actually responsible, and conclude that it is not our Lord.

We are created in God’s image. He is a relational God; one God, but manifested in three separate persons (The Holy Trinity).1 Jesus, the Son of the Triune God, agonized over having to be temporarily detached from the Father as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane about whether there was any other way to fulfill the Father’s will, other than death that would temporarily distance Him from the other persons of the Trinity; and again as He was hanging on the sacrificial Cross.2

Except for this momentary “distancing,” Jesus was never alone, and always in relationship to the other persons of the Holy Trinity.

But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me.

John 8:16

The one who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.

John 8:29

A time is coming…when you will be scattered…You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

John 16:32

Like Him (made in His “likeness”), we too are relational beings. It is not good for humans to be alone. We are called to love one another, to love our neighbors, and to love even our enemies. Who is it that would, by his nature, want people to be locked-in, quarantined, in isolation, and socially-distanced from one another indefinitely, and then muffled? Not God. That is not God’s desire.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:5

And Jehovah Elohim said, It is not good that Man should be alone.

Genesis 2:18

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.

Psalm 34:3

Burst into songs of joy together.

Isaiah 52:9

They all joined together constantly in prayer.

Acts 1:14

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts…and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

Acts 2:46

And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.

Acts 5:12

And let us…spur one another on toward love and good deeds not giving up meeting together…but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

As the above demonstrate, God desires His people to commune and worship Him when we are alone, but perhaps even more as an assembly of believers.For wherever two or three people come together in my name, I am there, right among you!

For wherever two or three people come together in my name, I am there, right among you! (Matthew 18:20) So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord. (Psalm 102:21-23)

One theologian explained Matthew 18:20 this way:

Every believer has the presence of Christ with him; but the promise here refers to the meetings where two or three are gathered in his name, not only for discipline, but for religious worship, or any act of Christian communion. Assemblies of Christians for holy purposes are hereby appointed, directed, and encouraged.

…the church of Christ in the world exists most visibly in religious assemblies; it is the will of Christ that these should be set up, and kept up, for the honour of God, the edification of men, and the preserving of a face of religion upon the world…

They are hereby encouraged with an assurance of the presence of Christ; There am I in the midst of them. By his common presence he is in all places, as God; but there is a promise of his special presence. Where his saints are, his sanctuary is, and there he will dwell; it is his rest (Ps. 132:14), it is his walk (Rev. 2:1); he is in the midst of them, to quicken and strengthen them, to refresh and comfort them, as the sun in the midst of the universe…it is a spiritual presence, the presence of Christ’s Spirit with their spirits, that is here intended…[T]hey shall find him there…The presence of Christ in the assemblies of Christians is promised, and may in faith be prayed for and depended on; There am I.3

Humans need touch. We long for closeness. We desire companionship. We need camaraderie. We want fellowship. These needs are not only self-evident; they align with what God teaches in His Word.

A man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Luke 5:12-13

He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on Him.

Matthew 8:15

Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak.

Matthew 9:20

Then He touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you;”

Matthew 9:29

For He had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch Him.

Mark 3:10

Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.

Mark 8:22

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

1 John 1:1

Considering these factors, do we now see where, and from whom, the tactics and motivations behind the pandemic originate? Have misinformation, censoring key information, and outright lies been evident throughout this time? Who is known as the father of lies? (John 8:44)

Have we been subjected to misinformation and manipulation which resulted in irrational and unwarranted fear among the populace? Has there been manipulation of “facts?” Whose tactics involve the abuse of fear and manipulation to entrap people into forms of bondage, and entice them toward division, strife, robbery, violence, and destruction? Do we see our real enemy at work yet?

Who is known as he who comes to steal, kill, devour and destroy? (John 10:10; 1 Peter 5:8)

Why would he do those things? In part, he accomplishes separation of people from their Creator. The more lives he succeeds in separating from God before they repent and reconcile with the Almighty, the fewer souls will enter God’s eternal dwelling place. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10) We resist Jesus’ call at our own eternal peril.

Believers who hold fast to their faith in Christ have nothing to fear. Our eternal destiny is secure. So, why not walk in that assurance? Knowing that it is against God’s will to give up gathering together in His name, to worship him and for other holy purposes, why would we join the crowd and stop assembling together as God commanded?

It is refreshing to see courage, like that recently shown by Pastor John MacArthur, who has discerned the truth and, against contrary popular currents, announced that his congregation will “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:1) For that reason, his parishioners will continue to assemble together to worship as the Lord instructs, and not succumb to unjust threats from government officials and others.

Under our Constitution’s First (and foremost) Amendment, Christians do not have to surrender what rightly belongs to God – the methods and means by which we worship Him and practice our faith.4 Those realms do not belong to Caesar (civil government). Let’s grip firmly what is God’s and what is His will, and not allow fear, complacency and conformity loosen our grip for the enemy to snatch our reward. I, for one, refuse to buy-in to the popular notion that “this is the new normal.”

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Mark 8:36

Manuel M. Melgoza ©

1 One God in three Divine, coexistent, and coeternal persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
2 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 26:39-42 and 27:46
3 Matthew Henry’s Commentary
4 “The Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands.” (Acts 8:18) “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6) “Let us move…forward to maturity,…instruction about…the laying on of hands… (Hebrews 6:2)

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