It seems that most of the incredible and growing [in both numbers and maturity] church movements (and Churches) that I hear about have three things in common.
- Radical obedience to Jesus
- Eating together.
The first two answers many people might put down as their “Sunday school answers” (aka you know the type of questions where the answer is almost always Jesus.) But what about eating? That’s a bit strange to be on this list after the first two “spiritual” answers.
Perhaps, though, Eating together really exhibits radical obedience to Jesus?
You see church is full of weirdos…you know how I know this? you and I go there. That’s right you are a weirdos whether you like it or not (I am too so it’s okay) and frankly people don’t like being around weirdos that much, you have to make polite conversation about this and that whilst they tell you all about themselves (oh and there problems! eh!) it’s best to have a short time together or at least fill it with some singing, listening to a sermon, silent prayer, and then there’s only time for a brief 5 minute chat over coffee.
But if you have space to chat…over say a meal (when you have to wait for food to come out as well as whilst eating) then you are forced to chat about something!
Something…oh dear, it could be another painful chat about football! Steve is always talking about football and I hate football (this is actually I lie, I like football mainly due to it’s almost incredible ability to form a bond with any man in England at least) or Listen to Sandra talk about knitting! ergh… What a terrible thing, except if we really love Jesus and really love this other person then we will choose to listen to them anyway.
Well, this would be true except for the fact that in a group dynamic, generally (not always mind) the group will select conversations based upon the common connection (it’s the annoying reason why I almost always end up talking about teaching when I head to the pub with a group of other teachers) and within a church group that connection is Jesus.
Meals take sacrifice as well. as I’ve already said they require you to listen to people you wouldn’t and talking about things you might not otherwise do with people you might never normally be around, but it’s more than that. Sharing a meal takes time and money, and giving up time and money for God is always a good thing.
So perhaps the real power of meals comes from its radical obedience to Jesus. To giving up time and money, for humbling yourself and being with people you wouldn’t normally choose to be with. For providing that space for Jesus to step into and fill.
So perhaps what is incredible about sharing a meal is that it is so unusual to do it with