In college, I attended a church where the pastor and his wife really reached out to students on my campus. He would always greet students by name at church, even if he had only met them once before. She came and taught a Bible study on campus every Tuesday night for students who wanted to learn more about the Christian life. But the most powerful thing they did as gospel ministers was—ready for this?—feed us.
I can’t tell you how many dinners they cooked in their home for hungry college students. But I can tell you how many lives-- starting with my own-- were changed by their hospitality. I saw classmates respond with awe at their invitation; “You want me to come over for dinner at your house?” I saw them greedily gobble up plates full of chicken parmesan and fresh chocolate chip cookies; and I watched them slowly open up and receive Love, like flowers in the first sun of spring.
In the last few years I’ve reflected a lot on why the ministry of a meal is so powerful in communicating the gospel. To be invited to someone’s home for dinner—to sit next to their own children and say grace with them and to pass the bread, please—is to be included in the family. It’s to be known by name, invited in, and embraced. It’s to be cared for and nourished, physically and spiritually. It’s to hear someone say, “Welcome home.” And what I’ve come to realize is that this communicates the gospel because this is the gospel: the invitation to dinner at Someone’s home.
See, to be a Christian is not just to believe things about God, but to be invited to His Table. It's to be welcomed as one of the family; to say grace with new brothers and sisters and to receive the meal that He has prepared for us from His very own life. To be a Christian is to hear God call us by name and say, “Welcome home.” No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, no matter how bad we stink or how dirty we feel, He sits us down right next to His own Son and nourishes us, physically and spiritually.
All that’s left for us to do is pass the Bread.
Have you ever heard the Christian life presented as a shared meal with God? How does that picture impact your feelings about accepting His invitation?