How many times have we heard a pastor quote this verse to affirm the presence of the Lord in a worship service, fellowship gathering, or prayer meeting? “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matt. 18:20). But in quoting this text this way, we misuse it by taking it out of context.
I still remember the warning of my homiletics professor: “Any text preached out of context is a pretext.” In this case, the common misuse is to some degree benign, because the presence of the Lord in gathered assemblies is a biblical precept and promise found in numerous other texts, and it is a valid implication from this text. But the misuse is still problematic because of what it can promote and because of what it causes us to miss.