Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25, ESV.
For the sake of discretion, I will tell the story like this… in the last twenty years, between the north pole and south pole, there was someone who made my life very difficult. It seemed like their goal was to make my day miserable with their distasteful attitude. They had a problem with me regardless of how nice I was or how hard I tried to make “things right.” So, what did I do? With the prompting of the Lord, I invited them to dinner.
There is something that happens when you break bread with someone. There is a calmness that saturates a dinner table when you sit down and enjoy a meal with other people. Time slows down and conversations flow freely. Most of the time, people’s walls are down. When you sit next to someone, you share your life with them and vice versa. When you share a meal, you share a piece of yourself with them. That, to me, is true fellowship.
The Greek word for fellowship is ‘koinonia’ and it means, “to share in common.” We are commanded in the New Testament to have unity in the Spirit by sharing the gospel of the new birth experience and also to have fellowship by the act of breaking bread (1 John 1:7; Philippians 2:1-2; Acts 2:42; 1 John 1:6-7; Matthew 9:10-17).
Are you wondering what happened after dinner at my home with that “person?” Well, we became friends and are still friends. It turns out that we misunderstood one another and all we needed was common ground to talk and laugh with one another.
“Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible.” 3 John 1:5-6, The Message.
When we extend hospitality to others our faith in the Lord is made visible. How powerful is that?
- Hospitality does not have the attitude of, “Here I am.”
- Hospitality has the approach of, “There you are.”
Food brings people together. When we read about the connection between Jesus and His disciples, it goes beyond a teacher-student relationship. Jesus doesn’t teach them rigid laws all day and then send them home to study and memorize ideologies. He taught them how to love people by loving them unconditionally. He taught them how to build relationships with people, by sitting down and breaking bread with them. He demonstrated the provision of Almighty God by allowing them to lack resources, only to be led to the water and catch a fish with a coin in its mouth providing their monetary need to pay taxes.
Jesus was criticized harshly for sitting with sinners and eating with them. The religious leaders scoffed at the idea of sitting with a sinner. But, how do you think the sinner felt? Do you think they felt loved? Understood? Accepted? The sinner could talk with Jesus and know that He was different, that He was love, and that He really could take away the reproach of their sin if they would follow after him. Why? Because ministered with a true spirit of fellowship, not a pretentious attitude.