Relationships – Day 4
Relationships: Eat together
In our day and age, having a meal together has become more than just getting together around a plate of food. It is an experience, a journey that starts at the place where you eat, which is measured by what you eat, the quality, and the effect of each dish on the taste buds that ends with the subtle wipe of the corner of your mouth. The lasting, deeper benefit of such an experience is when it is enjoyed and shared with other food lovers.
Meals in biblical times support the utility of relationships around food. Meals were a symbol of trust, brotherhood and sharing a part of people’s lives. However, there are always the exceptions. Like Jacob who prepared a lentil stew for his brother Esau in exchange for his right as the first-born (Genesis 25:33-34). It did not stop there — he also tricked his father Isaac: Disguised as Esau, he prepared his father’s favourite dish in order to receive the blessing meant for his older brother. In modern times, when people want to use other people for their own personal, selfish gain, we can say that the Jacob’s invite the Esau’s to their meal.
Dishonesty! Especially when measured to Jesus’ unselfish motives. He loved engaging with people around food — not only with important and well-known people, but also with friends, outcasts and the crowds.
During these occasions He preached a new way of living: Without hesitation, He addressed certain social issues; He taught about God’s Kingdom and forgave people their sins. His heart was for people and an acceptable way to get close to their hearts, was by means of eating together. No wonder He invited Himself to Zacchaeus’ house for a meal: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house” (Luke 19:5). Zacchaeus’ life changed irrevocably during this meal. A woman who invited herself to dinner that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried and anointed it, is sent away with hope: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50).
In the church in Acts, believers ate together as equals because poor and rich shared their food and faith — they had koinonia. It was a practical expression of their newly found faith and affection towards each other. I can’t help but wonder: Is this not perhaps the way we should go about to steer our modern individualistic society into a community that cares for each other? Maybe Paul and Peter had this in mind when they wrote: “distributing to the need of the saints, given to hospitality” (Romans 12:13) and “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:9).