The Table

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,

Nathan Roach

 

 

He Doesn’t Remember

It was a beautiful Friday morning. I had just got done taking a class at Vernon College’s campus in Wichita Falls and I was driving home. I was so stoked and excited to be doing just that because I had just procured my driver’s license three days before. I was driving down Southwest Parkway and approached an intersection at a normal speed. The light turned yellow and I made a dumb decision. I tried to speed up and get through only to have it turn red just prior to me entering the intersection. To make matters far worse, I immediately noticed a police officer pull out behind me with his lights on. Yes, I got a ticket and yes it was three days after getting my license (both my parents and their insurance company were not pleased with me).

Yet I was able to get this small (albeit stupid) traffic violation off of my record by taking what felt like a ten-thousand hour course in defensive driving (it was probably only six hours). Now I don’t have a ‘running a red light’ traffic offense associated with my name. My offense has been pardoned.

In an exponentially greater sense and scope, it is incredibly beautiful that God has promised to not hold any of our sins against us. In the work of salvation through the sacrifice of Christ we have been forever forgiven. Not only that, but God chooses to not remember our sins any longer.

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will remember not your sins.” – Isaiah 43:25

In a human sense, we tend to separate these two realities. We may be able to forgive with sincerity, but it is immensely difficult to no longer hold peoples offenses against us no more. Try as we might, we struggle to truly pardon and choose to not remember the offenses of co-workers, family members, friends, strangers. Their offenses may slowly dissipate in our minds over time, but this is more often forgetting rather than not remembering.

There is a fundamental difference in forgetting someone’s sins and choosing not to remember them. Forgetfulness is passive while choosing not to remember is active. I forget things all the time. I forget where I put my wallet or keys. I forget to send an e-mail or respond back to a text. I forget what day in April is actually Jamie’s birthday. These are passive realities of being a human with a finite mind who can’t cling to every piece of info. forgive

The trite old saying ‘forgive and forget’ may be worth adhering to in a sense, but it pales in comparison to the wonders of the gospel of grace. God has not forgotten our sins. He has chosen to not remember them. He has not in a passive sense forgotten that I sinned against Him today like I forgot how much meat goes in Hamburger Helper for that would make Him less than perfect. Instead, God in His wonderful and wondrous grace has elected not to remember my sins any more. When He thinks of me, He sees the righteousness and perfection of Christ. When He thinks of me, the immensely long laundry list of grievances against His holiness and perfection is nowhere in sight. Because of the sacrifice of Christ, my transgressions have been blotted out. Because of the sacrifice of Christ, God has chosen to not remember my sins. It is for His own sake that He does such a wondrous thing. It is for His glory.

If this is true, it should change everything.

If this is true, it should change how we respond to being treated poorly.

If this is true, it should change how we view ourselves in the day-to-day activities of life.

If this is true, it should change how we worship the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

The beauty of the gospel of grace is that IT IS TRUE.

Jesus commanded us in Luke 6:36 to extend mercy in the same way that we have had mercy extended to us.

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. – Luke 6:36

This truth should change how we respond to being treated poorly. I am not advocating being a doormat or allowing yourself to remain in dangerous or harmful situations with family or friends. I’m not advocating a frivolous lack of accountability or justice. Yet how can we walk in the gospel of grace and extend mercy through actively choosing to no longer hold people’s sins against them? Can you imagine the spirit and aura of restoration would permeate the church if this level of forgiveness saturated all of our communities and relationships (I have no idea how exactly this would play out in such a manner but it’s something I’m prayerfully exploring)?

This truth should change how we view ourselves. I’ll be real honest here for a minute. I allow myself to feel condemned for sin that has been nailed to the cross of Christ. I will too often operate in a mindset and self-image defined by my mistakes rather than the victories and gifts of grace that God has put in place in my life (any good character trait in any of us comes directly from the grace of God [James :17]). But if God no longer remembers any of our sins and doesn’t hold them against us after we’ve repented and trusted in the work of Christ, we shouldn’t allow Satan to hold those things in our hearts and minds any longer. Journey with me in discovering what it means to walk in freedom and the beautiful promise that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

Finally, this truth should change how we worship. Christmas is rapidly approaching and yet in these moments of excitement and fun, family and friends, we should be worshiping this God who became flesh, who lived the perfect life we couldn’t and died the death we deserve only to rise again from the dead in order to defeat the curse of sin and death. This same God who died for us also actively chooses to not remember our sins any longer.

Oh happy day.

Live in the freedom of God’s extravagant grace.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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