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Sharing A Table

We sat in a small hut in the middle of a rice field, at least half a dozen of us, young adults on our first youth mission trip to India. We were being treated to incredible Chepati and a chickpea curry, rich with spices, fresh, and abundant.

Our hosts were humble members of the local pastor's church we visited. They were not affluent by any means, and the cost to them would have been significant—possibly equivalent to a few days' worth of meals, given away to us with great joy.

Despite the financial sacrifice, the cost, upon conversion to AUD, would have been barely the price of a McDonald's meal for one or two of us.

Yet here we were, wealthy Westerners by their standards and many others around the world, being treated with hospitality that made us feel like royalty.

It was a deeply humbling experience. I felt so welcome, valued, and cared for, yet so undeserving.

This experience became a common occurrence in India. We were hosted with great care, diligence, generosity, costliness, and joy wherever we went.

To be hosted like this is to be shown a kindness and generosity of spirit that breaks down walls—walls of cultural difference, language, and social awkwardness. All these walls come tumbling down in an atmosphere of generous hospitality.

As we continue our series, "Faith Shared," in church each Sunday and here in our blog we explore the building blocks of Christian community as Jesus would have us build it. One of the most essential building blocks is the shared table—in a word, hospitality.

Core to the life of Jesus was sharing a table with people. In Luke's Gospel, Jesus seemed to go from meal to meal. Much of His impact, teaching, and ministry happened through the practice of hospitality.

We do well to observe our Lord and go and do likewise.

In Luke 5:27-32, we see Jesus calling Levi, a tax collector, and eating at his house with many tax collectors and others. When questioned by the Pharisees, Jesus replied, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Jesus ate with people that a typical Rabbi, especially a strict Jewish Rabbi, would not associate with. He was spending time with the "wrong crowd."

Yet, Jesus knew the only way to cure sin-sickness was to be present amidst it, at the meal table with the sin-sick.

This is our example to follow: Jesus showed ultimate hospitality through His presence, inviting all who were at His table to receive the ultimate gift of hospitality—the healing of their souls.

Christian hospitality knows that at the shared meal table, the healing cure of Jesus is shared, imparted, and released to all the sin-sick souls around the table, including us. What a beautiful gift Jesus has called us to offer and be a part of.

We are those who live a shared faith.

I want us to be a church that lives this shared faith around the meal table.

Imagine a world where this gift is offered to all—friends, family, and strangers alike. What walls could have already been brought down if we lived this hospitable way globally?


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