Breaking Bread: A “Come To The Table” Lifestyle
“Klôntes te kat oikon arton metelembanon trophēs en agallesei kai aphelotēti kardias.” – Acts 2:46
“Translating from the original Hellenistic Greek to English that means, “breaking moreover from house to house, bread they partook of food with gladness and sincerity of heart.” Three thousand people were baptized when the Holy Spirit came to the apostles during the Pentecost in Acts. The ways their lives changed were so dramatic that Luke found it important to write for future Christ followers. “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God,” (Acts 2:46-47 NIV) was included alongside devoting themselves to the apostles’ teachings, fellowship, the Lord’s supper and prayer. It was put alongside selling all of their possessions, and meeting together in the temple, or church. To the early Christians, coming to each other’s tables, sharing meals in each other’s homes was an essential tenant of their Christian walk.
Yet in today’s American (and Western) culture, even among Christians, coming to the table, and sharing meals has been gradually replaced by grabbing a quick bite while you continue to work, or eating a meal while distracted by our phones, our laptops, or our televisions. How can we recognize the importance of a meal shared with friends and fellow believers?
During the month of January 2018, Grace Klein Community issued the “Come to The Table Challenge,” a challenge that would strive to bring community together to recognize the importance of, and recapture the joy in inviting a guest to our homes to share a meal. The challenge was simple: Using food provided by the Grace Klein Community trade market, invite a guest over for a meal, put down your phones, listen and share. Your guests could be your neighbor down the street, a friend who just arrived in town, or that family that never gets invited to events because their kids are loud. Your guest could be a stranger you want to become a new friend, a family member, or even a person with which you have a conflict to resolve. The goal was simply to provide our community with opportunities to give grace, show generous hearts, share in our joys and pains, and lead us all to Jesus in praise and thankfulness for the bread being broken and the life being shared.
My “Come to the Table” experiences have come in many ways through this month, and even some before the challenge was issued. They have come in the form of inviting friends who were in town for a short time to dinner, and through sharing board game nights with friends while we snack on food from the GKC Trade Market. They have come in the form of eating dinner at the table at a Monday Prayer Night and a Taco Wednesday. Each invitation I was given, and each dinner I planned led to something new and different. One night I could see the side of a friend that I had never seen before, another I could receive advice that would help me in my daily walk. During one meal I would learn how to help and pray for a person in deep pain, and during another, I would share great laughter and joy with a friend celebrating an accomplishment. Some days, I would have the opportunity to spiritually guide someone, others I was spiritually guided. Each meal brought new opportunities to bring Jesus up in conversation, new ways to see Jesus in our fellowship, and new moments to praise Him for His grace and His generous provisions.
By keeping Jesus at the center of these meals, and sharing with glad and sincere hearts, Jesus was able to use them for His glory, bringing deeper relationships between His followers, and growing our numbers through new commitments to Christ. As the host, and even as the guest, we can allow God to use us in our position to show Himself to someone who needs guidance, encouragement, or a listening ear. When we send that invitation, put down the phone, turn off the television, look your guest in the eye and intently listen and openly share… God can use your investment of resources, energy, attention, appreciation, and respect to open hearts and open minds. God can use one conversation at a dinner table as an avenue to lead a person to eternal salvation. Isn’t that amazing? Doesn’t that make you want to clear your schedule and invite that friend to dinner?
I know schedules are tight, the house is messy, and we are often tired after a long day at work, making it difficult to be vulnerable to open our own homes and hearts to a guest. “Come to the Table” should not be a challenge we forget about after the month of January, but a lifestyle we work towards. Plan ahead, make time in your schedule, drink that extra cup of coffee for some energy, and oh ya, by the way, a messy house is a sign of a life well-lived. Invite a guest, and invite Jesus to come to the table. They both will appreciate your investment.
After all, do you remember what the last thing Jesus did with His disciples before he was brought to trial and crucified? The last supper made such a difference in the lives of the apostles that it was recorded in every Gospel (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-39 and John 13:1-17:26), and brought about a tradition in our Christian faith that has stood until this day. Jesus used the last gathering before His death to teach important lessons, to wash the feet of His disciples, to institute the Lord’s supper, and to reveal to them what He knew of His betrayal and what was to pass in the coming days. Jesus invited His disciples to the table, and shared a meal we now refer to as the “Last Supper.” Jesus saw the value of inviting his closest friends, his disciples, as so important and impactful that he made it the last activity he joined them in before his crucifixion. With that in mind, let us recognize the importance and the impact inviting guests to come to the table can make by observing it in our regular schedules, and our daily lives.” – Michael Kline
Be encouraged as community member, Layla Varvoutis shares testimony of how the Lord uses invites to their family table to care for the hearts of many…
“”Can we have someone over tonight?” This is a routine question in our home. When your spiritual gift is hospitality opening your home to fellowship and serve others is second nature.
I grew up as an only child with a single mom, which might sound isolated, but I also grew up in Louisiana, home to good food and constant social gatherings. I learned how to serve and host and cook at an early age as it was modeled for me. The way I know now as a believer that it is a spiritual gift is the joy that it brings.
As a family when we invite someone into our home we are inviting them into our lives. Our desire is for them to feel loved and honored as we share a meal and conversation but we also seek to model genuine Jesus love.
Whether our toilets were just cleaned in anticipation of guests arrival or if there is dust on the ceiling fan and clutter on the coffee table friends become family and bonds grow stronger when we gather.
I would encourage you to not forsake meeting together as some do. If hosting is unfamiliar territory and the pool only seems to have a deep end, do a belly flop off the diving board and get wet.
Your friends and neighbors will be blessed that you did. And once you come back up to the surface you will breathe in the sigh of joy as you realize we’re all just people looking for people to share life with. So why not start sharing around the common bond of food.”