A few weeks ago a friend was talking with us about how she felt a little self conscious about bringing food to dinners and other gatherings because she didn't cook, and because she didn't shop at the same grocery stores as a lot of the other people. It's an understandable feeling. In today's culture we are bombarded with the message that what you wear, what car you drive, where you shop, and what you eat determines your worth. Unfortunately, this can even be the case within the church. In his first letter to the church in Corinth, Paul addresses the problem of some eating the food that they had brought without sharing with those who had none, and getting drunk while others had nothing to drink. There were evidently wealthy individuals in the church who refused to share with those who were less well off. James writes about Christians who were showing favoritism to rich folks (possibly to get their tithes? :) ), while treating the poor among them like dirt.
Apparently, the early church hadn't moved far from the attitude of the Pharisees and those who gave and attended dinners to enhance their social standing. Of course, we here in the enlightened 21st century have moved beyond such attitudes, right? Right? *crickets* In a post titled, Accepting a Seat At the Table, Craig at Throwing Bricks writes this:
It’s strange but I often find Christians who are hesitant to fellowship with other followers of Christ who don’t share their particular set of doctrinal beliefs, political affiliations, worship preferences, social / economic status, race, age or perceived level of maturity. They are more concerned with being proved right than being with Jesus. It’s as though we are still abiding by the old rules of table fellowship. I have some old friends that border on fundamentalism and though we all believe in Jesus and strive to follow his teachings we remain distant due to certain interpretations of scripture. What gets me is that I have no problem calling them brother and sister but I’m not sure they would reciprocate that sentiment and it sucks.
Evidently, accepting others is an ongoing problem in the church. Sometimes we reject others due to different interpretations of Scripture, sometimes because of social standing. We still seem to have a hard time accepting those whom Jesus has already accepted. Craig also writes:
Jesus didn’t discriminate based on any of these factors but rather invited anyone to come. To respond to Jesus’ invitation and accept a seat at the table is to accept Jesus himself and everyone else at the table regardless of personal differences.
Our Rabbi, the one we are called to follow, invited everyone to come and accepted all who came. Should we do less.
To finish the story, I assured our friend that I knew that the folks in her group wouldn't care where her food came from, who had cooked it, or what bag she carried it in. She is fortunate because she is part of a community of faith that loves her for who she is, not for any standard of "worth" the culture might try to put on her.
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