(My youngest brother is probably laughing at me, if he even reads my blog.)
There’s something very intimate and touching about the food we eat. At the most basic and biological level, we need to eat in order to survive. But beyond getting our rations for sustenance, so much of our lives revolve around food. People are passionate about Food. Food tends to reach down deep to our spirit and stir up emotions and urges unlike anything else.
There are entire industries devoted to promoting, producing, selling, distributing, storing, teaching, protecting, developing, and sharing the experience of Food. There are people who write about the ‘healthy’ consumption of food while others love the excesses.
From creation, God provided fruits and plants for mankind. The first temptation was to eat a forbidden food. One could debate whether the fruit was pleasant-looking and desirable because of the God-like discernment of Good and Evil that came with it or if it just looked really yummy (I’m thinking for former). Later after the Flood, God also gave us the animals to eat as food.
Food can be a way to bring people together or divide them. The pilgrims that landed here, cold and hungry, celebrated the friendships they forged with the Indians with a Thanksgiving feast. The Bible teaches us that Food can also lead to our demise. Esau was willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of stew. Dietary restrictions on the Israelites were a cause of division and separation from Gentiles. (Later on, God shares to Peter and Paul how the divisions to keep the Israelites separate under the Law had changed with the resurrection of Christ.)
In this respect, Food is a huge social cornerstone of civilization. The breaking of bread together with friends, family and total strangers can open doors of conversation, compassion, and sharing. I believe very strongly that in order to really get to know someone, it’s essential to share meals together. I know that every single celebration, announcement, remembrance, and memorial I have ever attended involved Food.
I will also share that it is because of Food that my wife first caught my eye. We met in college. We lived in student apartments. Jenny and her roommate were always hosting dinners or coffee in their apartment. One day, she invited me over for dinner and put together the most incredible pork tenderloin meal. The meal was delicious, but what grabbed my attention was that she cooked with her soul. I could see her heart poured into her cooking. And it was beautiful. From then on, I knew I was going to do whatever it took to snatch her up.
I’ve said this before many times in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but I do mean it in all sincerity. Ladies – if you are trying to attract a man to court you, start with his stomach. If you don’t know how to cook, LEARN. You will get far better results in the investments you make in learning how to cook vs. learning how to pole dance or rock climb. Mothers – TEACH your daughters how to serve a meal including how to write up a shopping list and go buy groceries, plan for the number of attendees, time and prep, and serve. These are skills that are quickly disappearing from our society, but I can tell you that my daughters will someday stand out from the crowd because Jenny has been training them from a very young age.
This weekend, we’re hosting a potluck dinner after church at our home. We try to host one at least once a quarter. We usually get a pretty good turn out and the food that people bring is incredible. There are some churches that dine together every Sunday or Wednesday as a part of their fellowship. Others are deathly afraid of the associations that might be insinuated with their congregation if they start having picnics on the lawn.
I believe Christians are called to gather together to worship God and Christ, to keep each other accountable, to help in times of need, and to support and encourage one another. Too often Christians focus only on having excellent worship that we neglect the social connections we need to have with one another. Sharing the experience of a meal together – not just eating together – is the most simple way to open doors and build relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.