Shane Hughes explains the importance of eating together, and how it can change a life.
Over the last few days I have been getting my diary planned for 2019. Where did 2018 go? However, one of the highlights for me is January 25th. This of course is the date for Burns night. I have been celebrating Burns night for years and ever since I moved over to the Ipswich area I have been hosting this event for family, friends and work colleagues. As I think back on this event, I have become aware how many times someone new would come. Not surprisingly, with the majority of those in attendance being either from my church or another church, the conversations always tended towards a more spiritual aspect. This ended up being a great opportunity to share the Gospel to those who were not Christians, and strengthen those who were new Christians. It just seemed that there was something about gathering around food which encourages easy conversations and honest talks.
Acts 2:46 tells us how the early Christians, used to meet and eat together in each other’s homes. In fact, if we look at Jesus’ ministry most of it revolved around food. Throughout all 4 Gospels, we read about Jesus going to a meal, eating a meal, or leaving a meal. From the feeding of the 5000 (John 6), the meal with Zacchaeus (Luke 19) the meal at the Pharisee’s house (Luke 7), or the wedding feast (John 2), all of these these ministries involved food – the sharing of each other’s company. It wasn’t just about what society did at the time, but what all societies had been doing since Genesis. Eating together, is more than just sitting at a table, it is about sharing; experiences, hopes, dreams, heartaches – all can be shared over a meal. It allows some to be quiet as they eat, or to speak out. It has a beginning and an end. For me the best example which many know very well is of course the meal with Zacchaeus. Now he was considered the lowest of the low, but this didn’t bother Jesus. His message was a message for everyone, from the high born to the low, the rich and the poor, the well-mannered and the vile. To put this into perspective, imagine Jesus living today and going to spend time with the paedophile or the terrorist. How would you feel?
“It is so easy to look around and see people for what they do as opposed to who they are”
These people are still GOD’s children; they are still in need of hearing his word. Jesus put aside the prejudice that many people had at the time, and simply had a meal with the man. I can imagine that Zacchaeus never had a visitor like Jesus, who actually cared about who he was. The result was a changed heart and a changed life.
It is so easy to look around and see people for what they do as opposed to who they are. Jesus sees the heart, and so should we. Anyone can change with GOD’s Spirit, and a meal is a great opportunity to not just talk about GOD, but to listen to the person. Now it is important to remember that this is not about putting on a great expensive meal, it’s not the meal that is important, but the contact, the communication, the personal touch. If Jesus can perform a miracle with just a few fish and a loaf of bread, he can do the same with whatever meal you make. Beans on toast??? Why not? If you are willing to invite the least, the last and the lost, GOD can change a life.