When you think about a symbol for evangelism and discipleship, what comes to mind?
Some of us might think of the cross, for it is central to the message of the gospel.
Some of us might think of the pulpit, where faithful preachers exposit the Word of God week in and week out.
Some of us might think of a Bible or Bible study, since the study of its truths is crucial to the growth of the believer.
I would argue however that the table is a symbol for sharing our faith and deepening our faith.
I believe that sharing a table with others is the most effective conduit to discipleship.
I would argue that this was Jesus’ methodology as well. While He surely taught in public via parables and sermons, sharing a meal with others was a large part of His ministry. Consider the following verse in the Gospel of Luke:
The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ – Luke 7:34
In the passage where this verse is found, Jesus is calling the Pharisees and religious leaders out for their lack of faith in and allegiance to Jesus. Then he proceeds to tell them what He came doing: eating and drinking.
Again, I am not trying to detract from His preaching and His miracles. These are profound and show us that Jesus was the most unique man to walk the face of the earth, the very Son of God.
Yet, sharing a table with tax collectors and sinners was a clear part of His ministry. The Lord’s Supper, the ordinance that we use in our churches to reflect upon the sacrifice of Christ together, obviously happened around a table as well.
What does this have to do with us?
How can we live like Jesus in our communities, specifically when it comes to eating and drinking?
In His book, Surprise The World (Get it. Its call to simplicity when it comes to sharing our faith is refreshing. This blog is more or less his teaching in my words and experiences), Michael Frost calls every follower of Jesus to share three meals a week with someone in their community.
When I reflect on my life in just this past week, almost every conversation about faith has come around a table, while eating good food with others.
- At Burger King in Wichita Falls, I talked with my dad about marriage and ministry while chowing down on some Cini-Minis.
- At Braums in Vernon, I met with a student who is about to graduate and head off to DBU. We laughed together, talked about Avengers, and read a book about how the gospel should dictate our thoughts and actions.
- While eating Pizza Hut (I’m not sponsored, but I wish I was) with some members of my local church, we talked about the Lord’s Supper and how to build stronger community together.
- While eating a burger at a local restaurant, I spoke with a friend about how we can better serve one another in love, and rejoiced together about the professions of faith his children were making.
The table can serve as a bridge between people who might not otherwise spend time together. There is something intimate about sharing a meal. Jesus ate with those who were seen in their society to be the worst of people, and because of this He was accused by the pharisaical religious leaders of the day of being a friend of sinners.
Share a table with someone who looks different than you. Someone who has a different background. Someone who votes different than you. Someone who doesn’t walk with Jesus.
There is so much hate in our world, much of it propagated by well-meaning church-goers who don’t have the humility to just listen.
Just a reminder: in heaven there will be Republicans and Democrats, Cowboys and Redskins fans, Texans and Oklahomans, those who vaccinate their kids and those who don’t, homeschoolers and public schoolers, prostitutes and church secretaries, murderers and church choir members, heroin addicts and weekly Sunday school attenders, Baptists and Charismatics, Americans and former members of ISIS.
Your political party, choice of education for your children, race, wealth, or even country do not give you favored status in the eyes of God.
What conversations are you having?
What type of rhetoric are you putting on Facebook?
Don’t be a man or woman of hate.
Instead, share a table.
Eating with someone is not agreeing with 100% of their lives.
Somewhere along the way we have thought that distancing ourselves from any sign of unholiness is the best witness. We would condemn Jesus super fast, just like the Pharisees, for associating with sinners, wouldn’t we?
But association is not condoning sin. We must allow the holiness given us by Christ to shine through. When we’re like everyone around us though, we have gone too far the other way (as I blog about often).
I believe with all of my heart that long before we invite people to church on a Sunday morning, we should invite them into our homes to share a meal with us. Relationships draw people into the community of faith, not Sunday morning services. How could they? We are told in Scripture that we will be known by our love, not our dynamic preaching or bass lines or hymns.
Before you invite to church, share a table.
You may not be the most hospitable person. The thought of opening up your home may terrify you. Well, then, do what I do. Go out to eat.
If you can though, have people in your own home. You don’t have to have an immaculate home. Acknowledging an imperfect, sometimes messy home can be just as refreshing to a guest as acknowledging our imperfect, sometimes messy minds and hearts and lives.
If you want to have a life and heart transformed by a missional mindset, start sharing a table.
In His Name,