One of the best parts about church networks is that you learn so much from other churches. I wanted to share a post with you that I thought was spot on. My friend Pastor Ryan Pelton of the Acts 29 Network laid this one down on his blog and it fits right in with many of the things we have talked about this year.
At the beginning of the year Pastor Danny and I shared that one of our prayers is that you and I would reorient our lives around community and mission more this year. This post really gives us something to think about in that area. I hope you take this to heart as I have. I have a quick excitement in my stomach about this and don’t think I have any excuses for this not being a more frequent rhythm in my life. Enjoy…
The Table Experiment: One Simple Way to Live on Mission with Jesus
Jesus was called by the religious teachers of his day a “glutton” and “drunkard”.
When you read the Bible Jesus was either going to a party, leaving a party, or at a party. Jesus spent the bulk of his public ministry hanging out with friends, sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, and even his enemies- eating and drinking.
The people Jesus spent time with were not the social elite. They were not the kind of people your mother would approve of for that next sleep over. Yet, here was the Son of God spending his short time on earth eating with the hurting, broken, and the sinful.
The significance of table fellowship in Jesus’ day is hard for us to understand. In a first century context to have a meal with someone was a sign of friendship, unity, and intimacy. If a relationship was fractured and broken it could be made right with a simple meal.
Meals were not merely symbolic- they were theological.
They pointed to the day when God’s kingdom would be fully realized. The day when the greatest party of human history would ensue. When sin, death, tears, pain, and suffering would be a past memory. When God and his people will reign and rule in the new heavens and the new earth.
I want to reclaim table fellowship in our day for the sake of mission.
I want to throw out a challenge. My challenge is to see if we could reclaim some of the hospitality that Jesus displayed for us 2000 years. To open up our tables and lives and see what God might do with it.
In my estimation we make living on mission with Jesus too complicated. For the Christian there is a desire to see people far from God come to know the love and grace of God in Christ. For the hurting, broken, and poor we desire to see them find hope amidst chaos. And, the irony is that we long for these things not just for others, but for our own lives as well.
Opening up our tables is a simple way to open up our lives to others. To slow down long enough to hear the pain, hopes, and dreams of others. To extend grace and love to others around a meal. To point others to The Great Wedding Feast that is coming- where we will celebrate for all of eternity.
Here is the challenge:
Most people eat 3 meals per day (some people more- you know who you are), 7 days per week. That is a total of 21 opportunities to have a meal with someone else.
- Every week have at least one meal with someone who is not a Christian. This is not a bait and switch. This is a genuine desire to build a friendship with another human being regardless if they become Christians or not. Ask a coworker, neighbor, old friend, or even family member. Invite another Christian to join you and let non-Christians see how you live out the gospel in real life.
- Every week have at least one meal with other Christians. The gospel of Jesus is not just for the non-Christian- it is for the Christian as well. Spend time talking about how you are applying the gospel to your life- and how you are failing. Encourage each other, pray for one another, and remind each other around good food and good drink that a day is coming when all things will be made new.
- If you are married and/or have children have at least 3-4 meals per week together. This one might be hard for some. I know life is busy and you are very important. But, having meals with your spouse and kids is one of the best places to grow in grace, have spiritual conversations, and learn how to forgive one another. Don’t let the culture dictate the pace of your life.
You need room to build into your spouses life and your childs life. Meals are a great way to build a new pace and rhythm into your hectic life.
It will be impossible to do any of these things unless you evaluate your current pace of life. If you think this will happen after you have filled up your schedule- think again.
You need to reevaluate your time, values, and priorities. Do you have time for others? Do you have time for people who are not like you? Do you have time for people who Jesus came to rescue?
Who’s in? Let’s do this…
What are the challenges and joys of living this way?