How do I gather up my soul & mind, my convictions & biblical truth, my body & my appetite and bring it all together to formulate a succinct take on food? Of so many things that are debated & argued over, food is central to so many of them. We can see this with the rise of food allergies & health problems (diabetes, celiac, & obesity to name a few), not to mention the ever constant religious & spiritual beliefs, which create stigmas with certain foods. You can see why "food" is a sticky topic.
Food can nourish us & divide us. It's need is in every person, beast & bug in the field. We cannot live without it. There are those of us who have plenty and those who have none. There are those who gorge to the point of obesity to those who starve themselves willingly. This thing, which God created for good, has been abused. Not only has it been abused with intent, but it has been used to create social barriers & a status claimer. Food has become unattainable not just by corrupt leaders withholding food from their citizens; but, unattainable within the hearts of many.
What does Redeeming the Table believe about this most priceless of gifts?
If food causes anyone from seeing the love of Jesus, then it's not beneficial.
God created a garden full of food. He said it was good, partially because it helped nourish his best creation, his children. This idea of food being good (& essential) is woven throughout Scripture. God created food laws for the Israelites, in order to distinguish them from the other nations; but, also for sanitary reasons. Food laws were not confined simply to Judaism, but we see the same for so many other religions (Islam, Hinduism, etc). It wasn't until Jesus came to redeem his creation that we see the breaking of food laws.
Jesus was accused of being a glutton & a drunkard (as well as a sinner because he ate with sinners). He was bringing the intent of the Garden back to Earth. To a time when all food was good. He understood that all food was created by God, and if eaten with a thankful heart--it was good. It wasn't about the food, it was about the heart. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Corinth stating:
If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
How does this translate to hospitality?
Life-giving hospitality is showing the love of Christ wherever you find yourself. I have shown that love and not shown that love. I am guilty of putting my value of food above a person. In our family, we eat a certain way. I have certain convictions about food & in how I feed my family. This translates in feeding guests or bringing a meal to friends homes, as well.
There was a time in the last couple months where Ben & I were participating in 30 days of only eating meats, vegetables, eggs, good fats, limited fruits & nuts. We were at a friend's home and they had prepared a meal for us. We didn't let them know about our eating and the meal was quite opposite of this 30 day challenge. So what did we do? Did we eat the salad greens we brought and other 30 day approved foods?
No. We thanked God & our friends for this meal.
I haven't always been so gracious and I'm still learning to put aside my food snobbery, in order to receive a gift from a friend. And you know what? It's not easy. When I've tasted ingredients that are really pleasing & coffee that's divine--it can be hard to graciously receive a gift.
Ultimately, this gift that was given...still needs so much redemption in this world.
But I'm hopeful, because I write from a Christian, Jesus follower perspective. By which I mean, the Son of Man who sought to destroy the restrictions & stigmas people have placed upon themselves & others about food. He knew that food was more about community building, redemption giving, & crossing all the barriers, in order to make it about the commonality of loving the other as God's Palace Temple.
So, join me at the table as we connect, nourish & give thanks over this blessing God created and called good.
Be Sure to Read:
- Part 1: Redeeming the Table & Sharing Stories & Storytelling
- Part 2: Redeeming the Table & Sharing Hospitality