Recently I had a meal with some people from my church. Someone there mentioned that sharing food with believers is a special form of fellowship, that food is life, so sharing food is sharing life.
As a type one diabetic, that isn’t really the case for me. It’s pretty much a given that a public meal is going to cause me harm. Sometimes I can regain a blood sugar balance in a matter of hours, but sometimes I can swing between highs and lows for a couple of days, depending on how well I avoid things that look and smell wonderful to me. It’s hard to be in a situation meant to bring life and know that it steals life from me.
Now, there are things that could change. I could be in a church that never gathers to eat, but that’s pretty extreme, because food really is life, and we’re meant to share it. They aren’t wrong in sharing it; it’s just that I’m not capable of getting life from the things that bring them life.
So, the lesson. You know this isn’t just me having a great pity party for myself. Not that I’m incapable of that, but this isn’t what that is. This is about evangelism and church, of all things. As I sat in the group a couple weeks ago, I was struck with a thought that hasn’t let go of me. It has to do with the church that focuses on the unbelievers to the point of starving themselves.
You see, our church could stop eating together so I wouldn’t feel left out, but it wouldn’t really fix the problem. There is nothing outside of divine intervention that will allow me to partake in a healthy way of group food. But, I’ve seen churches bend over backward to make unbelievers not feel left out. They don’t partake often in the Lord’s Supper, or they neglect to mention sin, or they pretend that actions and not changed hearts lead to God. They try to water down the realities of the Christian walk so it can appeal to everyone. They fear offending non-Christians more than feeding themselves for God’s sake.
The thing is, no matter how watered down it is, it can’t allow an unbeliever to partake in a healthy way. That only happens through divine intervention. God saves a person and allows his spirit to participate fully. If anything, the church should rally around the things that share life so the unbeliever longs to partake.
Of course the church can welcome unbelievers in their midst. They’re told to do just that. But it should always be clear that those who believe are participating in something wonderful, something that anyone can have if he believes, but only if he believes. Yes, many will be left out, but that can’t be our concern. We are simply to hold out truth and ask others to grab on. But the grabbing–that’s God’s, and he can do it even if we don’t water things down or make them modern or relevant.
Someday, I’m participating in a feast. And in a way, I’ll appreciate it more than most, because I was left out of a lot of feasts along the way. Those who come to our churches can also long for something they see there, a love shared among the brothers, a unity of purpose, things that can’t fully be theirs until God grabs their hearts. It’s okay to show them and wait for God to do his part. Just like I wait for God to do his part to fix and complete me and invite me to a healing feast that’s all about life.