“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11)
One definition of a table is “a piece of furniture with a flat top and one or more legs, providing a level surface on which objects may be placed, and that can be used for such purposes as eating, writing, working, or playing games.”
Over the years, one of my definitions of a table is “a place where people bond together.”
During my many years in the US Army, our family became involved with a ministry called Cadence International. They provide couple missionaries to communities where military servicemembers and their families live and work to help spread the gospel of Jesus through relational activities. The centrepiece of Cadence was an event they called “Hospitality House.” The missionary couple would open up their home (commonly on a Friday night) to military singles, couples, and families for the purpose of sharing a meal together, discussing the Bible, praying with each other, and getting to know one another in an intentional way.
For many years, my family attended Hospitality House and it served as our primary form of ministry during that time. We got to know many other families, and to this day, we stay in touch with a lot of them.
One of the activities during Hospitality House was the time where Danny (the leader) would read something out of a book to all of us shortly after the meal had been consumed. Usually, this reading would involve a story of some kind. A missionary couple overseas had a dramatic and inspiring encounter worth sharing with others. Someone went through a harrowing experience where the Lord delivered them from it. I remember many of these stories vividly, and a lot of my fondest memories occurred while we sat at the long dining table together discussing life.
It has only been recently that I came to realize that there is power at the table. Sure, food is consumed there, but if you re-read the definition above, it is clear that a lot of other valuable, highly relational activities occur at the table. Families play games and laugh. Strangers become friends over a meal. Ideas are born in conversation with loved ones. In fact, many lives (perhaps your own) have been changed while sitting at the table with the people who matter most to you.
Jesus did some of His best work sitting around the table with people. He taught His disciples around the table (Luke 22:14-22). He reclined with tax collectors and sinners around the table (Luke 5:29). Mary anointed His feet, and He washed the disciples’ feet all in the context of sitting around the table (John 12:2; 13:12). These are just a small number of examples of Jesus changing lives around a table.
What is it, then, about a flat surface with legs that is so powerful? Perhaps it’s that people sit in close proximity to each other, look into one another’s eyes, and feel almost compelled to talk about their lives. There is something inherently intimate about connecting with others face to face in this manner.
What should you take away from this meandering article, then? Consider making time with others around the table more than just an occasional, accidental event. Invite someone over to your house for coffee or a meal. Play games with your kids in the kitchen instead of sitting on the couch watching a show. Host a bible study at your place and sit everyone around your dining table when you do. Listen to the people you love face to face, eye to eye while sharing a piece of pie.
In other words, love others well in all that you say and do, understanding that the table has the power to impact many lives during the years you have here on earth.
If you are a practicing Christian, here is something you need to hear. If your heart and mind is that the addicted, impoverished, and broken people dug their own grave and the rest of society is not responsible for their bad mistakes, then I ask you to wake up.