LET’S GO EAT
Scripture exhorts the practice of Christians eating meals together. Hospitality is a virtue which mature Christians are to possess (1 Timothy 3:2). Some even ate with angels, not knowing who they were (Hebrews 12:2). “Be hospitable to one another without complaint . . . (1 Peter 2:14 NASB). What is so special about eating at someone’s house or at the meeting house after services?
When Jesus wanted to describe heaven he painted a picture of friends eating together. In the next life, “. . . many shall come from East and West, and recline at table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:11 NASB). Jesus refused to fast, because his ministry was like a bridegroom at his own wedding rehearsal (Mark 2:19, 20). He said that accepting God’s salvation is like accepting an invitation to a great banquet (Luke 14:16- 24). The early churches saw the significance of eating together and regularly had dinner on the grounds (1 Corinthians 11:17- 22; Jude 12; 2 Peter 2:13). Interestingly, the only three references we have of their fellowship meals are apostolic corrections of abuses. This clearly shows the early practice of eating together.
The Jews in Jesus’ day knew, as we know today, that some mealtimes nourish our bodies as well as our relationships. Family and social ties are strengthened by eating together. We accept the one who eats at our table. Jews were horrified because Jesus received sinners and ate with them (Luke 15:2). To receive someone is to accept him and take him into your heart (Romans 15:7). On numerous occasions the enemies of Jesus criticized him for eating with publicans and sinners (Matthew 9:11; 11:19; Luke 15:2). Yet the groundwork laid by Jesus and these meals resulted in many additions to the church after Pentecost
Today there are times when Christians eat together in restaurants or at dinners or “on the grounds.” These should be encouraged. It is sad, however, that many neglect these opportunities to be together. Though some cannot attend for various reasons, there are many who could and would attend if they cultivated more affection for the brethren.
The dynamic church which begins on Pentecost “continued steadfastly in . . . . fellowship.” (Acts 2:42). Remember that the next time a fellow Christian says, “Let’s go eat.”
T Douglas Couch, Sax Church of Christ, May 27th 1987
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)
We study and teach “disfellowship” without preaching and practicing fellowship. Many brethren have been “churched” who are never accepted. The Bible teaches the validity of fellowship. Of all places this must be in adult classes! Our mistake and neglect is in fellowship. Brethren do not attend classes; they come in late to worship and leave early without speaking to anyone. They “float” here to there refusing to identify and get involved. Most brethren “in fellowship” actually have “no fellowship.”
You don’t have a man until he is in fellowship. This solves a problem in evangelism. We convert people in personal work — they never come to worship. They were never taught “the body” and “fellowship.” Someone says, “Catch a man the first time he misses.” This is too late! He has already “dropped out of fellowship.” Don’t scheme brethren back, love them back. Gradually, seniors quit the church — but look — they never sat with or participated in youth affairs. They were never in practical fellowship.
We must restore fellowship to the church. The place to begin — adult classes. We must stress and practice fellowship. Doctrine becomes our only interest! We split and re-split over every new issue. Issues are made. Our factions speak louder than our words. Adult classes become “butcher shops.” Fellowship becomes a “peeve” rather than a family. Brethren are frozen out. Cliques destroy congregations. Fellowship is listed second in “Heaven’s Hall of Fame” (Acts 2:42). How many brothers do you know? How many brothers are you learning to know and love? Happy Christians are the ones with a profound fellowship
Fellowship has always been discredited! Buildings can be built for doctrine but not fellowship. Brethren are starved for love. We attend worship only to sit, stare and look sour. The crux of exciting worship is fellowship! Many times a few good meals eating together would have accomplished more good than a debate. Even brethren who admit a need for fellowship limit it to the teens and young adults! We have the sneaking suspicion “good Christians” will outgrow it.
Fellowship is a relationship. Having the right vertical relationship with God we have the right horizontal relationship with the brethren. Acts 2:42 is in sequence. We proceed from doctrine to family to deep worship, then lastly to profound prayer! This must happen in adult classes . . .the sooner, the better!
Charles Hodge GO TEACH CHRIST, Forrest Park Church of Christ 11/8/1984
Why we need each other
The huge Redwood trees of California amaze mankind. They are the largest living things on earth and the tallest trees in the world. Some of them were 300 feet high and over 2500 years old. One would think that a tree so large must have a tremendous root system that reaches down hundreds of feet into the earth. But not so! The redwoods have a very shallow root system. If one wants to get down on his knees and examine the redwoods root system he would find that all the roots intertwine. They are locked to each other. When the storms come the winds blow, and the lightning flashes, the redwoods still stand. They are not alone for all the trees support and protect each other. Each tree is important to all the other trees in the grove. This vivid illustration should teach us the necessity of meaningful involvement with each other.
The church is souls and fellowship. Without Christ the church is nothing, and without fellowship the church is useless. We must show what a difference Jesus makes.