One of the simplest, and greatest joys in life is experienced in a very common way: eating together. And getting together over a shared meal with time to spare is even better. I don’t know about you, but I have many great memories of the dinner table. At home as a boy, with our extended family at holidays, romantic dinners with my wife-to-be, lunch meetings with parishioners, church potlucks, and even meals in the field as a soldier. These memories stick because good things happened over good (and even not-so-good) food.
In the Bible, lots of good things happened during mealtimes – especially in the life of Jesus. The gospel of Luke alone records at least 10 instances of Jesus eating with others. Around the table, people experienced the joy and love of Jesus, the compassionate correction of Jesus, the forgiveness of Jesus, the leadership of Jesus, and the powerful, life-giving sacrificial power of Jesus. Eyes were opened and hearts were changed. Lots of good things happened around the table!
And good things still happen around the table when we practice hospitality and eat together. The Barna Group’s latest research shows that one of the strongest factors for passing on our faith to our children is the regular practice of hospitality. Amazing! Why would that be? Here’s a few reasons:
- Hospitality reinforces family integrity. While we often “put on our best” when guests come for dinner, hospitality compels us to open our homes. It says, “This is who we are.”
- Hospitality teaches the joy of service. There’s something about serving a well-cooked meal to others that make serving fun. There’s nothing quite like delighting someone else with a good meal.
- Hospitality fosters conversation. Eating together puts us face-to-face. In this day of technology and all of its convenience we can lose the skills of listening and talking together.
- Hospitality is a great opportunity to share our faith. Serving a meal is a tangible expression of love – of culinary talent and treasure, and personal time. Luke tells us that as Jesus ate with his disciples following his resurrection, he was “made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” And that was just a start – thousands of people have been introduced to Christ since then.
The Bible says: “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 37:8). Now that’s hospitality!
As Jesus says, Go and do likewise.
Your Partner in the Gospel,
Seeking Jesus, Serving Others