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God is not in the crowd

 

When people look for God, or when they need His help, they go to church. They believe that is where they will find God. They believe that is where their prayers will be answered. They are mostly disappointed. They are faced with more judgement than love and understanding. Instead of finding God they find an organization where it is more about the 'church' (business) than about the people. 

Nothing wrong with going to church. God did not create us to be alone and the church is a good place to meet other believers. But that is not where you will truly find God - or yourself. 

People think it is better to pray with others because of Matthew 18. 

Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” - Matthew 18:19-20

But what does this really mean?  

If you really think about this verse, it basically means you have to pray with others because God only gives you what you ask for if two or three agree. Not only that, but your alone time with God means nothing because He is not there.

This can obviously not be true. Jesus told us that we should pray alone in our most private room. 

But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you. - Matthew 6:6

Why would Jesus instruct us to pray alone if there was no point - if God only answered us when we prayed together? We know how important personal, alone time with God was to Jesus - why? If God is not even with you when you are alone? 

Your pastor is also wrong.

Now that you think about it, this verse does not make sense. If you ask your pastor about Matthew 18:19-20, he will tell you that the verse is actually about church discipline. That would be correct as the author of Matthew was busy talking about church discipline (Matthew 18:15-17). 

If however you read the whole Matthew 18 you will notice that things just don't make sense. On the one hand Jesus is saying that God will never stop looking for us (Matthew 18:10-14) but then it also says you only get three warnings and then you are banned for life (Matthew 18:15-17). It says we should forgive 77 times (Matthew 18:21-22), but then also that if someone wrongs you, you should take two witnesses and treat that person as bad as you would a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17).

Matthew made a mistake

The author of the Gospel of Matthew was not an eyewitness to what Jesus did or said and the gospel was written decades later. We have seen in the article 'The problem with the Gospel of Matthew' that the author was writing to a Jewish audience. He tried to link Jesus to the Old Testament (more than he should have) to make Jesus more acceptable to the Jews. We discovered a pattern where the author added things to what Jesus said when he needed to soften the blow to the Jews.

In Matthew 18 the author was writing of what Jesus taught about forgiveness and love. This was a difficult pill to swallow for the Jews as they love the idea of the punishment and the wrath of God. 

The author read or heard from someone that Jesus talked about where there are two or three, there He will be. He then incorrectly linked what Jesus said to an Old Testament law that there should be two or three witnesses when judging someone (Deuteronomy 19:15).

That is not what Jesus could have meant and the whole Matthew 18 just turned out confusing with contradicting statements. 

What Jesus actually said

If the author of Matthew misquoted Jesus, how can we find out what Jesus actually meant? None of the other gospels in the Bible uses the verse about 'two or three', but the Gospel of Thomas does. 

Jesus said, "Where there are three deities, they are divine. Where there are two or one, I am with that one." - Gospel Of Thomas, Saying 30

Slightly (but critically) different from the version in the Gospel of Matthew. 

In the saying above, 'deities' simply means people. In John 10:34 Jesus also uses the word 'theos' when referring to us (human beings) – meaning deity. If you now read the saying again (replacing deities with 'of you'), then it means exactly what you think it means. The smaller the group, the better. Three is great, two is better, if you are alone - perfect. 

This changes everything. The church wants us to believe that the church is the place we need to go. The place where we will find God. Jesus however says it is not. You will not find Him if you join a church (organization) - YOU personally need to find Him. When you are alone, when you share your faith  with genuine friends - that is where He will be. 

You can now start to see why the early church did not include the Gospel of Thomas in the Bible and why they tried so hard to destroy it (just one of many reasons) - read the article 'The lie about the Bible'

Unlike the version in the Gospel of Matthew that simply does not make sense, what Jesus said in the Gospel of Thomas does make sense and is inline with what Jesus taught and did. 

Jesus didn't like crowds

Jesus preached to crowds and there were mass conversions. If that happened today the pastor will shout 'Holy Spirit Revival!' Jesus didn't, He thought it was mostly fake!

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in His name [identifying themselves with Him] after seeing His signs (attesting miracles) which He was doing. But Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people [and understood the superficiality and fickleness of human nature], - John 2:23-24

Jesus knew people. He knew that only a few will really follow His teachings.

Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one." - Gospel of Thomas, Saying 23

Single one does not mean you will be alone. Jesus instructed us to love one another. But it does mean it is about your personal relationship with God and not about a church you belong to. It also has to do with being whole - but we will get to that later (upcoming articles).

Let's look at another example - the 5000 that Jesus preached to and fed (John 6). They were so impressed with Jesus after the miracle, they wanted to make Him king - but Jesus couldn't get away quick enough.

Then Jesus, knowing that they were going to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountainside by Himself. - John 6:15

They (the 5000), stopped believing in Jesus shortly after that because they didn't like what He was teaching (read the rest of John 6).

There are many more examples of where Jesus avoided crowds and focused on teaching a very small group (twelve apostles) or even someone personally. 

Let's look at another example of how important Jesus felt a personal relationship with God is compared to a 'church'. 

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come. - Mark 1:35-38

The first thing we notice is that Jesus felt it was important to be alone with God. The second thing is how little concerned He was with the group of people that was looking for Him. He didn't go back there to first establish a church, to appoint leaders, deacons, and tell them to gather on a weekly basis.  The only thing that was important to Jesus was to spread His message - the crowd of people gathered was not important.

Isn't it better if more people pray together?

Most Christians think the more people that pray for you the better. People will ask the whole church to pray for them or go on Facebook and ask people to share their request with as many people as possible. 

They believe that the more people pray, the better the changes that their prayer will be answered. Where does this idea come from? Did Jesus once say a miracle could not be performed because not enough people prayed or believed? 

What is important is that when we pray, that we have faith - not that we have the numbers.

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. - Mark 11:23-24

Jesus told us how and even where we should pray - not in front of the church.

But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you. - Matthew 6:6

That does not mean you should always pray alone - but when you want to pray with someone, find the right people to pray with - not as many people as you can find.

Jesus said, "If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move from here!' and it will move." - Gospel of Thomas, saying 48 

There needs to be harmony and real love when people pray together - we all know how difficult that is just for two people. With a group, it gets exponentially more difficult with each person that is added to the group.

What did Jesus do when He went through a difficult time - when He was scared?

For three years Jesus spent day and night with the 12 apostles - teaching them, living and traveling with them. They must have known each other very well. These men could drive out demons and heal the sick (Matthew 10:8). Yet, when Jesus was afraid, He opened up about how He was feeling to only three of them!

He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” - Mark 14:33-34

Why only three? The smaller the group, the more genuine the intercession will be. The sad thing is, even those three let Jesus down (Mark 14:41). 

That is why, even when Jesus only chose His best three friends to pray with Him, He still made time to pray alone.

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed ... Mark 14:35

Even 12 was too many for Jesus, He chose only 3, and after He chosen 3 He went further to be alone with God. 

Maybe opening up before your church of 300 about the difficult time you are going through is not such a good idea. If you really need help, go to God.

Standing alone

One way to understand this concept is to say it is about your personal relationship with God. The words 'personal relationship' is not used by Jesus, but the the concept comes through very strong in everything he taught and did.  Jesus did not use the term because maybe it just wasn't how they spoke - or maybe it is because the term does not do the true concept justice. 

Everyone that goes to church will say they also have a personal relationship with God. Again, nothing wrong with going to a church - but if you suddenly had to stop going - how would it affect your 'personal relationship' with God. How much do you need to be seen, accepted, validated and appreciated by other Christians and your pastor?

Jesus said, "There are many standing at the door, but those who are alone will enter the bridal suite." - Gospel of Thomas, Saying 75

Jesus was clear on how important friends (GOT 25) and family (Mark 10:29-30) are. Standing alone can't mean that we should be alone in life. 

I think it means that if God is truly your Father - then you can love and serve others without needing to be validated by them. You seek God and not the approval of others. You worship God and not a church. You serve God and not a person (pastor or church leader).  

It is about you and God - not a group or organization. 

Jesus said, "I shall choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one." - Gospel of Thomas, Saying 23


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