The Table: Who's Invited?

13 August 2014

Last week I talked about the significance of the table in our lives. So many memories are made around the table, so many friendships. We gather around the table to share food, company and stories. The table is a part of our daily lives. When we are around the table we seem to be more honest, more genuine as we talk and share with one another. 
As Christians we gather around the table to share and talk about our faith. We seek to be filled and nourished when we come to the table. The table is where we get the bread that sustains us both physically and spiritually as we go about our lives. Because of this it is important that we know who is around our table (symbolical of the church) as we seek to be nourished.

The Host
First we have the host or the person who is serving the food and/or providing a place to gather. The host is who decides what is going to be served, how it is going to be served and when it will be served. The host takes time and careful consideration to decide exactly what food they will serve. What does everyone like? What foods will taste good but still be reasonably healthy? What foods should I stay away from or avoid serving? And so on and so forth. The host carefully makes all kinds of decisions about the food, the preparation and the presentation. 
In the church the host is often times the Pastor. Sometimes the host is the Bible study leader, Youth Pastor, or Children's Ministry Director. The person that is in this role changes depending on what is going on. The host is in charge of deciding what Biblical information they are going to share with the congregation of believers who are gathered. They decide what passages to use and what way they are going to interpret them or go about explaining them. As they decide this they should be in prayer asking God to confirm that they are sharing what needs to be shared each week. They also have the responsibility to make sure that what they are sharing and the way that they are interpreting a passage is theologically sound. They are providing the nourishment for the believers who have gathered around the table. They are responsible for providing something that is going to nourish all of those who have gathered regardless of where they are in their walk.

The Mature (Strong) Christian
The next person at the table is the mature or strong Christian. They often times have grown up in church or have been a Christian for several years. They are certain of their beliefs. These Christians have spent years learning about God and striving to grow in their walk with Him as they go about their daily lives. They often times are the ones who are there to help the host. They may help provide the meal, or in the case of the church, teach. They make sure that things are ready for others who come. They help others along as they struggle through questions and doubts. 
Mature Christians still come to the table for nourishment and they need to. They need to get nourishment, but when they come to the table often times they are sharing with and answering questions of the new Christians and unbelievers first. As mature Christians we know that we can get our nourishment later on through a Bible study, small group or devotional. We know where to go to get the nourishment that we need. Our primary goal is to guide those who don't know how to get that nourishment or need help digesting it. 

The New (Young) Christian
The new or young Christian is someone who is coming to the table having only been a Christian for a short time in most cases. They have come for nourishment and community. They are seeking information, answers to questions, and friends who share their beliefs. Often times they have only been Christians for a couple years or less, although others may have been Christians for many years but never really did much to strengthen and grow in their walk. These Christians need the guidance and help of the Mature Christians as they attempt to gain nourishment at the table. They need to ask questions and share their doubts, talk about their stories. The Mature Christians should be sharing their stories and their experiences with the New Christians so that they can learn. These young Christians have a strong need for the nourishment that the host is providing. It is essential to their growth daily as they go about their lives. 
The De-churched/Un-churched (Unbeliever)
Last, but most certainly not least, is the dechurch and unchurched who come and gather at the table. They are in desperate need of the nourishment that is being provided at the table. This nourishment is the difference between life and death. The host, the mature Christian and the young Christian need to welcoming to them as they gather with them. They either have never been a part of a church or faith community before or they have been detached from one due to being hurt at their last one. They often are hurting and searching for something, someone to help and heal them. They come for refuge and for nourishment. They are looking for a place in which they can be real with others and where they can find truth and comfort. They are searching for Him but they don't necessarily know that, especially those who are unchurched. This is where those who are Christians must step in and help them get that nourishment and digest it.
As we gather around the table there is a need for all of these people to be there, especially as the church. We are all seeking nourishment and the table is where we find that. This is why the table is a necessary part of our lives. Without the table we get weak. It is the place that we come to when we need to be filled again, when we need to be real with those around us and soak up what He has for us. 

There is a dangerous habit that can form though. As we come to the table and we are fed and nourished, many times we get so focused on feeding ourselves that we sit at the table and we don't leave or we don't help feed others. This is especially important for mature Christians. We must step away from the table and go out and share with and nourish those around us, those we come in contact with. What good is that nourishment if we never use it to grow others? We must be careful that we are not sitting at the table and not leaving.

Gathering at the table is so wonderful and it is such a blessing to be able to, but there are two things that I think are important. First, our table must be open to everyone no matter where they are in their walk with God. Second, we must get up from the table and go share with those who cannot make it to the table. The Bible says that where two or three are gathered He is whether there are many or just a few, gather around the table, share some great food and be real with one another as you share in each others' lives. 

Who are you inviting to the table? Who can you invite? How can you go out and share with those who are not able to get to the table?
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  1. What a wonderful post Shelbi. Related to this a lot and its certainly a place where I a "new christian" feel so comfortable, a place where you feel relaxed enough to ask questions. its something about having something in front of you too i guess - feeling more comfortable - its odd in that respect. Love your sentence "our table must be open to everyone no matter where they are in their walk with God" so well said. Really enjoyed this post :)

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! That comfort that is found around the table with friends and fellow Christians along with some good food is wonderful. It is odd to a degree, but I also see the beauty in it. Jesus even gathered His disciples around a table and shared a meal with them when He wanted to talk to them and share important news and aspects of life with them. I pray that everyone is able to find a 'table' to be comfortable around, a table at which they can drop that wall and be open and honest!


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