“Whenever two or three . . . come together . . . , I am there with you” (Matt. 18:20, CEV).*
When basketball star Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in January, a friend of mine posted an online question: What was your favorite Kobe Bryant moment?
Along with the many amazing moments on the basketball court itself, I shared my own favorite Kobe Bryant moment: when Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal reconciled.
For those who don’t know the story, Kobe and Shaq were teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers—winning three consecutive championships together. Kobe and Shaq were also both alpha males who contended internally with each other . . . and, eventually, refused even to talk.
Shaq finally left Los Angeles to play for another team, the Miami Heat. And when the two teams played, Kobe and Shaq barely acknowledged each other.
But then in 2006, during a Los Angeles-Miami game on the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, Shaq approached Kobe for a handshake and a hug. Everything changed.
Separation is the hardest experience we can have in life. That’s why restoration, the opposite of separation, is the most beautiful experience we can have in life.
When Jesus said, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20), He wasn’t talking about two people worshipping together. (Jesus doesn’t need a quorum of two to be with you.)
When we have the opportunity to heal a broken relationship, we must grab it.
Jesus was talking about coming together. Look at the fuller context: “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ . . . For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (verses 15-20).
This is why two or three are needed—because it takes two (sometimes three) to reconcile. Jesus cares so deeply about healed human relationships that He personally promises to join the experience in a special way.
Jesus knows firsthand how painful human separation is. He once turned to His friends, after nearly everyone else had left Him, and said, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:67).
In the end, Jesus was rejected by nearly everyone. Yet He forgave them all—inviting them back into relationship with Him. That includes you and me.
When we have the opportunity to heal a broken relationship, we must grab it. Another friend of mine once told me about the hardest 40 steps he ever took in his life—walking over to reconcile with someone whom he’d been in conflict with. He said the healing between them brought incomparable joy and renewal.
Yes, just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to come together. But it’s never just two. Because Jesus Himself is there with you both.
* Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.
Andy Nash ([email protected]) is a pastor and author who leads a study tour to Israel each summer.