Sharing a meal together as friends (part one)

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“I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me.” Revelation 3:20 (GNT)

From this well-known, maybe overused, but hopefully not worn-out passage, many spiritual applications have been made. Jesus knocking, us hearing his voice and opening “the door of our heart” (knobless from the outside) is the most common way to look at it. Then there’s the more contextually correct way of looking at it where he takes his rightful place in the lukewarm church. Whether we apply this to him entering our hearts or re-entering the dead church, it’s clear that he wants in, and yet waits to be wanted. And when he is invited in, he takes over the house. What was once “our house” becomes his. Now that he’s inside – instead of outside – he’s the head of the table and master of the household. All these are great themes, biblical and inspirational, but I’ve been musing about a different aspect of this passage.

What we bring to the table…

I can’t stop thinking about what he wants to do once he gets in the door. If we decide to let him into our house, and he heads straight to the dinner table, then what? Well, if there’s food on the table, he wants to eat it with us! He accepts our invitation, enters through the door with food in hand, sits at the table, and joins the feast of love – friends around the table in happy fellowship.

“I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me.”

To me this sounds an awful lot like some sort of “potluck,” which should make all good churchgoers happy (if not hungry), since the potluck is almost sacramental. You can’t really be a church without potlucks; it just wouldn’t be right. So, who brings the food to this shared banquet? The implication is that we both do – he comes with food in hand and places it on the table next to the fare we’ve prepared and brought. He eats with us and we eat with him.

In keeping with the true nature of the potluck, if you come to the table you bring something with you. Each one has something with their name taped on the bottom of their casserole dish or Tupperware container. And even the One who sits at the table’s head brings something with him.

The food he supplies – forgiveness, love, grace that changes us, eternal life – we couldn’t live without. The Bread of Life himself actually becomes the meal that always satisfies and never ends. Sound’s pretty good – yes? But what do we to bring to the table? What can we cook up that he would enjoy?

I’m not much of a cook, or a foodie for that matter, so I’ll ask you what you think. Does it matter what we bring to the table, or will Jesus eat just about anything? To carry out the metaphor in a way that seems to do no serious damage to the passage, I propose that Jesus is on a bit of a restrictive diet. It’s not that he’s sickly, but we might say he’s a picky eater. There are certain foods he seems to prefer over other things.

I imagine his palate not particularly disposed toward manufactured food, processed by someone else – a third party not actually at the table themselves. His preference is for the homemade, for “slow food,” not items handed through drive-up windows or pulled off store shelves, microwaved and rushed to the table in plastic wrap. He prefers what we’ve grown in our own soul-garden or made from scratch in our own spiritual kitchen. What we bring to the table is to be personal, a reflection of who we are – a labor of love.

Of course he doesn’t need anything from us. He’s not dependent on us or on what we bring with us to the potluck. Nevertheless, the things we bring in love do make him happy, this happiness (this glory) spills over onto us, making the joy of the meal together complete. It gives him pleasure to assemble us in such a way as to find our highest pleasure in pleasing him.

Presentation, to some people is essential to a pleasant culinary experience. I’ve never thought much of it myself, being one who brings to the table the pots, pans, and scoopers (I don’t know their official names). I don’t care much about what it all looks like, I just want filling, tasty, and reasonably healthy. Dim lights and a nice garnish atop lousy food on fine china don’t fool my taste buds or satisfy my hunger. And I don’t think Jesus is much impressed by presentation either. He sees through religious garnish like the facades of the main street saloons and hotels in a western movie. He likes it when we come to the table with whatever simple fare we’ve made with love in our hearts – love for him and for the others with us at his table.

[See Part Two on “Sharing a meal together as friends”]

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