Eat with Someone, b.l.e.s.s., 20 January 2013

Eat With Someone.

Big Idea:
Eat with one lost person each week.


Two weeks ago we began our new year with our new series and annual theme, b.l.e.s.s. We said that we have been blessed to be a blessing. This is a theme throughout history, most prominently in God’s covenant with Abram.

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

We have defined success for Scio Community Church. Perhaps you’ve seen this!

We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 

- serving our communities

- sharing our story
- sending disciples to bless the nations

so that God is glorified.

Our first week’s challenge was to bless one person.

Last week’s challenge was spend one hour listening to God.

These are not one-time challenge, but new rhythms, patterns for the new year, every week. Some would call them spiritual practices or disciplines.

Do you like discipline? It’s not a very attractive word, is it? We often think of punishment or rules or no-pain-no-gain. In the realm of spiritual disciplines, we commonly think of prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, or Bible study. I’m not opposed to any of those and, in fact, I’ve done quite a bit of each, but they never fell into the category of “fun” for me. Like physical exercise and eating brussel sprouts, I often did them because they were good for me, not because I really wanted to do them.

Many years ago I read a book by John Ortberg entitled The Life You’ve Always Wanted. The subtitle is “spiritual disciplines for ordinary people.” As I began the book, somewhat tentative about all of the hard work it was going to guilt me into doing, I was struck by the first discipline: celebration.

“Celebration?” I thought. That doesn’t sound all that bad! The more I read, the more I realized I actually don’t celebrate enough. I’m wired to always be looking for the next hill to climb, the next task, the next project...and I don’t pause to celebrate enough.

Like celebration, this morning I want to challenge you with a discipline that you might actually enjoy! It could change your life...and the life of others, too.
Two weeks ago we said the “b” in bless is for bless everyone.

Last week we said the “l” in bless is for listen to God.

This week’s letter is “e” and it stands for eat with someone.

Do you like to eat? What do you like to eat? Why?

What is your favorite restaurant? Why?

This week an annual report on restaurants was released and they announced the worst extreme entree: The Cheesecake Factory’s Bistro Shrimp Pasta with 3120 calories!

We’re not talking about diet today, though what you eat —and how much—is very important. Food is powerful. We all know it is necessary for life. We all recognize it can be enjoyable to our taste buds—sometimes too enjoyable!

There are over 700 verses that talk about eating, often in mandated celebrations (did you catch that?). The Bible contains many instructions about what, where, and how to eat.

  • - Passover
  • - communion/the LORD’s Supper
  • - Jesus made wine
  • - Jesus ate at Matthew’s house (Matthew 9:9-13)
  • - Jesus went to the house of Zacchaeus
  • - Jesus multiplied loaves and fish, at least twice
  • - Jesus referenced the food provided by God to the Israelites, manna
  • - Jesus calls Himself the bread of life (John 6)
  • - the Jews were very particular about their diet (kosher)

We are told in Revelation chapter 19 that there will be a great supper of the Lamb, the ultimate feast that will make Mardi Gras look like a trip to Chuck E. Cheese!

Eating was once central to life. Now we can eat alone, grab a quick bite to eat in a drive-thru, pop a tv dinner in the microwave, or even replace a meal with a shake or protein bar.

In Jesus’ day, eating was more than sustenance, it was social. Your meal colleague was someone you loved and cared for, someone that was part of your social class. This is why Jesus took such heat for eating at Matthew’s house, with him and his socially outcast friends.

But have you ever considered its power in conversation?

Food is found throughout the Bible. It provides a unique setting for conversation.

There are two short passages I want to look at together.

Acts 2

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)

This is part of a description of the early church. It describes food in the context of fellowship.

I want to draw a distinction between fellowship and hospitality. Fellowship is when we, the Church, gather together. We enjoy a potlucks, gatherings of food brought from our various homes—or favorite restaurants—to share with one another. This is one of the most important things we do as a church, especially since we are geographically scattered. There is something powerful about our conversations at potlucks. Have you noticed? They are often more meaningful than short chats in the hallway. Food brings us together.

If fellowship is what we do together, hospitality is when we welcome or love the stranger. Our potlucks also serve this function, as evidenced by one particular meal several months ago in which a conversation with first or second-time guests led to their family joining the Scio family. The potluck experience welcomed them.

Hospitality is one of the most underrated practices of the Church. One of the most fascinating verses is found in Hebrews.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
(Hebrews 13:2)

It kind of makes me want to throw a party! Seriously.

Hospitality is a requirement to be an elder (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8).

Peter said,

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

Paul said,

Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:13b)

We were all once strangers—to God and one another, yet we were welcomed (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Jesus was a missional eater. He ate with people, intentionally. In the book
Right Here Right Now, Alan Hirsch and Lance Ford write

“Sharing meals together on a regular basis is one of the most sacred practices we can engage in as believers. Missional hospitality is a tremendous opportunity to extend the kingdom of God. We can literally eat our way into the kingdom of God! If every Christian household regularly invited a stranger or a poor person into their home for a meal once a week, we would literally change the world by eating!”

Change the world by eating!

This Week’s Challenge

So what does eating have to do with our annual theme.
This week’s challenge is eat with one lost person. That’s it. You can do lunch, breakfast, or even coffee. You can welcome them to your home...or your favorite restaurant. The purpose is simple: eating furthers conversations, and the more conversations we have with people, the more spiritual conversations we will have, the more relationships we will form, and the greater our impact in our communities.

Just like week one, ask God to show you who...and maybe the person can provide the where.

Most of you will eat at least 21 times this week. Pick one and invite a friend...or make a friend. Eating together is a great way to bless them. And if you’re too uncomfortable one-on-one, grab a friend and have three or four at the table!

This one simple discipline may change your life...and our church. Imagine what would happen if each person spent 52 meals this year with unchurched people?

some materials borrowed from Charles Kiser (Storylinecommunity.com).

You can listen to the podcast