In his book, A Meal With Jesus, Tim Chester points out the many times Jesus is pictured eating with people in Luke’s Gospel,
- In Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi.
- In Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal.
- In Luke 9 Jesus feeds the five thousand.
- In Luke 10 Jesus eats in the home of Martha and Mary.
- In Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers of the law at a meal.
- In Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals rather than their friends.
- In Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus.
- In Luke 22 we have the account of the Last Supper.
- In Luke 24 the risen Christ has a meal with the two disciples in Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in Jerusalem (p.10)
To top it all, Luke emphasizes that Jesus came into the world “eating and drinking” (Luke 7:34)
Considering this blatant purpose statement, it would appear that sharing meals with people was an important aspect to the Lord’s mission.
How many outsiders have you eaten with recently? Got any stories or experiences?
A Meal With Jesus is a book written by British pastor Tim Chester, and is a short theology of food. That’s right…food. The punchline of the book is that “Jesus came eating and drinking.” The premise? Jesus’ basic missional strategy was to eat with people, from the religious astute, to the marginalized, meals were a powerful means that the Son of God used to give people a taste of the kingdom (pun intended). While Chester gets a bit poetic with food (it’s charming), his main point is maintained with elegance and compassion: The single best way to bring your neighbors to the possibility of savoring Christ is through your hospitality. There is no better way, nor is there a more enjoyable way to be on mission, and in community than to eat a meal with someone. I’ve read a lot of books, but few of them will have such a meaningful and practical effect on mission as this one.
Here is a quick excerpt on the book by Tim Chester…
I highly recommend this book, especially to those who earnestly desire to be on mission in their community but are not sure how to do so. This book is for you.
Amazon: A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table (paperback)
Without parallel, one of the most hilarious battle scenes in the Bible is found among one of David’s celebrated ‘mighty men,’ Shammah. It was difficult to read and take seriously at the same time. It’s ok—he took himself seriously enough for both of us…
And next to him was Shammah, the son of Agee the Hararite. The Philistines gathered together at Lehi, where there was a plot of ground full of lentils, and the men fled from the Philistines. But he took his stand in the midst of the plot and defended it and struck down the Philistines, and the LORD worked a great victory (2 Sam 23:11-12, NASB).
So after I got done laughing at the poor chap’s zeal over an alluring piece of real estate…
…I realized that Shammah was so unabashedly dedicated to a cause that even seemingly insignificant spaces within his cause were not too mundane. He fought as if he were fighting for the king.
Because he WAS!
I’m reminded of this by Brandon’s prior post on difficult job situations. I’ve had my fair share of jobs, relationships, outcomes, etc., all of which made me feel like I too was babysitting a dumb lentil field. But here are 3 things I think we can take from Shammah in order to salvage wasted space…
- God’s purpose is to renew, restore, and redeem all environments and the people in them.
- God’s mission attributes value to your space even if it feels unremarkable
- When God’s purpose and mission assimilate yours, you tend to find joy in even the smallest things because everything God does is wonderful
Fight for God’s lentils!!
Everyone is searching for a clear direction in life.
Christians get even more specific by seeking God’s direction.
I’m not talking about clear direction, like, “should I tell people the gospel?” Such inquiries get answered plainly in Scripture. What I’m taking about is the vague, obscure questions. So let me put your mind at ease…
There are probably more important things to God than scrutinizing every single minutiae of your life.
- Who should I date?
- What should I do for a living?
- Should I go on a missions trip?
- Should I take that job offer?
- Should I eat at Chipotle or Burger King?
“Ah,” you counter, “but shouldn’t I be doing ALL to the glory of God?” (1 Cor. 10:31)
Yes, but what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that there are limitless amounts of tiny decisions throughout your day that can either make or break whether you are glorifying God? Like, is God secretly hoping that you will choose Chipotle to eat lunch instead of a hamburger? Does it mean that when you eat a sandwich, you should be thinking happy thoughts of Heaven every time you gnaw on that salami? Does God prefer blue eyes over green eyes in your dating life? Boxers or briefs??
God speak to me!!!
Now, I know these are silly examples, but they are exaggerations of what we actually do with our decision-making. Of course, I do believe that the Holy Spirit leads us to make decisions (even in small ones). But I also believe that the He will often do this by simply giving us the wisdom (a spiritual gift) to make those decisions.
Paul once said something to the Romans after he got done unloading a bunch of detailed theology on them that pertains. He said,
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Let me rephrase Paul’s statement in Lazo-language…
“Hey people, chill! All of your decisions are born out of your worldview and outlook on life. So CHANGE YOUR WORLDVIEW! Renew it, transform it, cause it to align itself with God’s by immersing yourself in His Word, and then you’ll find that even your smallest decisions will be under the influence of God. You won’t have to scrutinize every little mundane detail and whether it is good or acceptable and perfect, just like you don’t have to think about breathing oxygen. You just do, because that’s how your body works. Well, a transformed life works a certain way too: it desires to glorify God, and everything it does follows that underlying desire.”
You’re gonna do what you love the most. And if you love God the most, your decisions are probably going to reflect that.
Of course, be careful to allow God to intervene in your life and direct you in specific ways, if he so chooses. But remember that God just wants you to love him, and live your life out of the outflow of that love.
Your purpose is to love him, and your DNA is to obey.
Augustine put it this way, “Love God, and do what you want.”
Now maybe I’m drunk with liberty, but could some (even much) of our decision-making be as easy as just figuring out what you enjoy doing in life, and doing it to honor God?
Am I off?
- When we’re ignorant of the implications of “missional,” but we drop it like a buzz word as often as possible
- When we’re only relational with our Christian friends
- When we move our Christian “bubble” to a trendy coffee shop and repeat the same patterns
- When we specialize in telling others how to be “missional” (anyone see my irony?)
- When we go on a short-term missions trip once, then come back home feeling like we’re the savior of the world
- When we do any ministry that lacks relational value (like much street evangelism. Some would disagree)
- When we’re judgmental towards outsiders
- When all we do is blog about mission
- When all we do is read about mission
- When we treat outsiders like targets who need to be converted
- When we’re hypocritical (we’re selling something, but we don’t even want to buy it)
- When we get theologically obese
- When we’re legalistic
- When we speak the Gospel without living the Gospel where we’re speaking
- When we fill our calendar with church meetings and events
- Bonus: inviting someone to Easter like this couple (short clip)
Anything I’m missing from this list?