Have you ever noticed how often eating together shows up in the gospels?
It could be argued that the Way of Jesus has grown across the planet because people ate together.
“While they were eating … Jesus said, ‘Do this to remember Me.’” (Luke 22)
“All the believers devoted themselves … to sharing in meals…” (Acts 2)
“They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.” (Acts 2)
“Eat what is set before you…” (Luke 10)
“Zacchaeus! I must be a guest in your home today!” (Luke 19)
Crazy things happened at Jesus’ meals. Broken people wept in gratitude at his forgiveness. Religious elites were challenged to renew their view of God. Corrupt business men became generous. Disciples learned a sacrament for remembering and experiencing Jesus that would be repeated around the world billions of times.
Several controversies in the New Testament-era church even involved food.
Why the fuss?
“You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” (Acts 11:2)
“The Greek speaking believers complained about the Hebrew speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food.” (Acts 6)
“When you meet together, you are not really interested in the Lord’s Supper. For some of you hurry to eat your own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some go hungry while others get drunk.” (I Corinthians 11)
You know that Scripture about taking communion “in an unworthy manner” and “drinking God’s judgment upon yourself”? That stern warning comes later in this same letter Paul writes to his Corinthian friends (I Corinthians 11). The cultural situation Paul addresses involves people in the church hoarding food and drinking excessively at their communion parties while others who were present had nothing. It had, literally, nothing to do with excluding new people who hadn’t agreed to certain doctrinal or membership requirements.
The context of the chapter suggests almost the opposite of what’s often taught about restricting communion from people – we should share generously the communion meal with others, inviting them to receive the grace of Jesus, not restrict them from partaking.
Who we eat with and how we eat together is important to God.
Think about it: Jesus introduced, arguably, his most important sacrament/ceremony (communion) over a meal. And he told us to replicate these kinds of meals.
Meals are essential for sustaining and expanding the Jesus way of life.
I talk about it in a recent message I shared with some good friends at Church of the Harvest, KC.
22 years ago, my walk with Jesus was solidified when someone took me out for a meal and talked with me about Jesus.
I “got saved” at a meeting.
I became a disciple through the eating.
This has been on my mind a lot lately.
Eating more effective meals.
In fact, it’s changing how I spend time with people.
“Jesus spent his time eating and drinking – a lot of his time. He was a party animal. His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship round a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine … In Luke’s gospel Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal.” (A Meal with Jesus, 13)
Yes, it’s simple. Offensively simple.
Share meals together.
Where people feel safe.
Where honest conversations about life and Jesus take place.
Where laughter happens.
Where discoveries are made, bonds are formed, and community happens.
Where people become the church together.
The way of Jesus spreading at the table.
It’s time to regain the art of eating – like Jesus showed us.
Not just consuming food. Something more.
Something sacred. Scandalous, even.
The chance to partake of something spiritual.
God with us. God here. God now. God in our food.
“I am true the true bread that came down from heaven… Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” (John 6)
Jesus wants to join us at the table.
Have you wanted to have spiritual conversations with your neighbors, classmates, or coworkers without being rude?
Try inviting them to share a meal.
It can be just as real and effective as a well-crafted sermon.
Certainly more effective than arguing on Facebook.
What if your “evangelism goal” was simply to share some great food with your non-Christian friends and engage in meaningful spiritual conversations?
What if your evangelism AND your experience of community could deepen by more regular, amazing meals together?
I want it, too.
Who can you share a meaningful meal with to remember Jesus?
Jesus told us to eat with people.
Jesus showed us that one great meal can change your life.
Your next encounter with Jesus might be one sacred, scandalous meal away.