Mealtimes are sacred opportunities for building fellowship with one another.
In the beginning of my marriage, I would often tell my spouse, “Eating out is my love language.”
As a newcomer to the routine of preparing meals, I occasionally felt discouraged and overwhelmed by the weight of that job.
Food always seemed to taste better when it wasn’t made by me, therefore I always found myself saying that. I was always nervous to try new recipes because of my now-famous kitchen disasters, such as the beautiful biscuits my newlywed husband spewed out of his mouth over dinner. Who knew that an overabundance of baking soda could make biscuits that look so delicious taste so awful?
The demand for food, however, did not go away despite my inability to prepare it, and it only grew as our family expanded. As our family grew, so did the number of mouths to feed and the variety of unusual preferences to cultivate and appease. Cooking wasn’t something I could dabble in whenever I felt like it; rather, it was a responsibility that I could either shirk and fail at, or honor and use to bless others around me. To my great satisfaction, I have found that practice does really make perfect, or at least that my progress has been dramatically enhanced via repeated effort. For the first time in years, I looked forward to our nightly suppers, despite having endured years of same menus, some amazing new recipes, and occasional flops. Putting together a meal for the individuals God has given me became a way for me to show my appreciation for them through the planning, preparation, cooking, table setting, and service that went into it.
When I first started exploring these new areas, I would get creative at dinnertime as a manner of expressing myself, but that quickly changed. The intention behind it was to bless our meal and make it one to remember.
Providing Long-Lasting Meals
There is never any leftover of the meals I make for my family. When it has been in the fridge for too long, it is either eaten or thrown away. The “meal that endures to eternal life,” Jesus promised his followers, “will be given to you by the Son of Man” (John 6:27).
The necessity of eating every day is something I simply can’t ignore. Without it, we’re doomed to failure. But Jesus teaches us there is something more important than the dinner I prepare for my family every night. It’s the kind of food that will last forever, a staple that won’t go bad. The mystery food is…
The Son of God.
“He who comes down from heaven and brings life to the world is the bread of God” (John 6:33).
There is always one thing that is mandatory during our family dinners.
In a word, it is Jesus Christ.
Even the most impoverished meal, whether it be rice or something as culturally reviled as McDonald’s, can be transformed into an occasion for thanksgiving to God when the Spirit of the Lord Jesus is present at our table.
“Nothing is to be rejected if accepted with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer,” the Bible teaches (1 Timothy 4:4–5).
By reading from his word, talking about the day’s events in light of God’s word, or singing a psalm or song replete with truths from his word, we invite the Lord Jesus to join us at the table.
Every day, just as we need to eat food to stay alive, so too must we consume God’s word daily if we are to continue to live.
Eating God’s Word is like sitting down to a family meal with loved ones; it is the shared nourishment of a friendship that will last forever.
Shared bonds sealed with edible symbols of friendship
If you want to have a deeper fellowship with someone, there’s nothing more meaningful than having a physical meal with them at a table.
It gets so bad that Paul tells the Corinthians they shouldn’t even eat with a man who claims to be a Christian but who acts arrogantly and sinfully all the time (1 Corinthians 5:11–13).
As Christians, we show our spiritual unity with one another when we share a meal together.
This means that every night at dinner, parents can invite their children (as well as their neighbors, friends, and even strangers) to share in the Christ-centered fellowship that they have with one another.
It’s a chance to share some tasty and nourishing food on a physical level, just as we do every day when we offer up Christ as the true bread from heaven.
If this seems overly idealistic, like a Christian take on a Norman Rockwell painting, then allow me to disabuse us of that notion.
There are actual folks at family dinners.
Furthermore, real people make messes, weep, argue, and have fussy tastes.
Remember that practice makes perfect, or at least significant progress.
My proficiency in the kitchen is the result of years of practice and a lot of trial and error.
Just because we gather around a fancy table in the evening doesn’t make dinnertime a happy time for family bonding. Forget about a free lunch; a fellowship requires effort. Being patient and diligent is necessary.
Which means we don’t let grudges fester, we don’t ignore bad attitudes, we don’t let our kids slide when they need loving punishment, and we don’t let ourselves get lazy or neglectful as parents.
Having a meal together and discussing God’s word is hard work, but it’s labor that will pay everlasting dividends.
How to Cook Like God by Making Meals
At least about one item did I get it right back when I was first beginning to cook. When prepared by a skilled chef, home-cooked meals truly do surpass those from restaurants. For this reason, home-cooked meals are always a hit with the kids. That’s why it’s so special when a restaurant’s food is prepared by a skilled chef. That’s why God’s gift to us, his one and only Son, the bread of life, is the most delicious meal we could ever hope to eat.
God doesn’t need our help cooking the food he creates. He never suggests getting together for a shared meal. We bring nothing except an empty stomach and a desperate yearning for him. Faithful and hopeful, anticipating his hospitality, we approach his table with joy. At his home, he will share the company of his people with us. He provides for us physically and spiritually, making nourishment that will last forever.
When we sit down to a meal with our loved ones and enjoy the fruits of our labor as well as the blessings of Christ’s provision, we imitate him in a most special way.