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The Table As A Tooltable

By Pete Marra

 

 

For the past month, I have been building a twelve-foot long dinner table made from 100-year old barn wood. Although I am not much of a carpenter, I have been on a mission. I gathered the old rough-cut wood, built the foundation, and carefully sanded each piece for one reason:

I am convinced that God can use this table as a ministry tool.

 

Jesus certainly thought it was a powerful tool:

"Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind..."

Luke 14:11-13

 

This verse has been running through my mind as I have been assembling my table. I have been asking myself, "Who will I invite to this table? Who would Jesus invite to this table? How can I make the most impact with this table?" Although it is just a table (and a few benches), I believe God can use it for more if I offer it to him.      

 

Having dinner with someone is personal, isn't it? We normally only eat with close friends and family. Even when we are throwing a party, we often trim the guest list down to those who are close to us.  What factors generally determine who gets the coveted invitation to our dinner party? It's normally related to the proximity of our guests, perhaps age of children we all have, or the level of personal relationship we have.      

 

But Jesus did not treat his dinner table the same way. He knew that having a meal with someone is more than just eating. It is about emotional connection, relationship-building, and overall community enhancement. Jesus used the dinner table as an important place for his ministry to the least of these.      

 

And so should we!      

 

Hospitality and inclusion around the table is big opportunity in our missional lives. We do not need a seminary degree to invite someone to our home for a meal. We do not have to be culinary experts or interior decorators. All we need is a willing heart to ask and an open table.      

 

For that reason alone, I have endeavored outside my comfort zone to build this table. I am imagining fifteen international students, sitting around our Thanksgiving table, learning about why we celebrate this traditional American holiday. I can almost taste the turkey and dressing as we smile and enjoy a new level of friendship. I am praying that God will give us direction as we share about the One to whom we give thanks.      

 

Jesus is quick to remind us that our focus on meals, hospitality, and outreach should be towards those who have nothing to give us in return. Who gets invited to our table? Are we intentional about planning to eat with and build relationships with those who are the least and the lost, the "foreigners" in our land who could benefit from a seat at the table? In the weeks and months ahead, think about your dinner table, lunch after church, or morning coffee as way to build bridges toward those who don't know Christ. How can your time around the table become central to your mission of reaching those in need?

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author pete

 

Pete Marra is co-founder of At The Gap Solutions, specializing in business innovation and business incubation. He has spent his career as a business consultant working with the top Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies around the world. He has served as a church planter, missions leader and church pastor. Pete and his wife Heather live in Danville, Kentucky and have three children.

 

 

A Word From James

 

Pete and Heather went with me to China several years ago. At least two wonderful things came from that experience. They adopted a sweet Chinese daughter, and they launched a hospitality ministry with international students in Danville, KY. God is indeed using their love, laughter, perseverance and dinner table to communicate his eternal love. So encouraging!

 

Is there some way FollowOne can help you, your children and your church use the blessings of God to serve lost and hurting people? It’s not too late to modify the list of folks coming to your home for a Thanksgiving meal!

 

 

 

 

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