The Divine Power of the Dinner Table

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Have you ever thought of waging spiritual warfare with a butter knife?

Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 that the spiritual warfare of gospel ministry is all about tearing down the resistance in people’s hearts to the captivating truth and beauty of Christ. What that resistance is changes throughout time and culture. In Paul’s day, people were resistant to the truth if it wasn’t proclaimed to them with the trappings of flowery speech or by those with seemingly impressive credentials. Truth, he explained, is recognized by the message which comes with a power that causes our hearts to treasure the beauty of Christ so mightily that the shackles of sin are shattered to the ground.

In 2018, a new resistance rules in the ethos of American public opinion and it’s this: Christians who live by the Bible hate you. They want to keep you oppressed in a stuffy patriarchy that glorifies a time in American history dominated by racism. They hate you if you’re a woman. They hate you if you aren’t white. They hate you if you have same sex attraction. They hate you if you’re educated. They hate you if you’re a Democrat.

Because of this, one of the most strategic operations in gospel-centered spiritual warfare to besiege this cultural zeitgeist is to become champions of love.

But I must be specific because there are some garbled views of love that prevail. Love does not mean that we toss out any definition of sin that is culturally unpopular and approve any lifestyle people choose. Love does not embrace what will destroy the beloved and sin will destroy you if you let it reign in your life (Romans 8:13).

On the other side, many seem to believe that love means ducking behind the bunker and throwing truth grenades across the battlefield, hoping that the shrapnel will somehow pierce someone’s heart. We often do this by tweeting, commenting, or posting positions out into the faceless arena of social media, using words that are stronger than the love we feel for our opponents. As Rosaria Butterfield says in her new book The Gospel Comes with a House Key, “Only hypocrites and cowards let their words be stronger than their relationships, making sneaky raids into culture on social media.” These are not the actions of those divinely empowered to proclaim God’s reconciling love to the nations.

The love that I am talking about is the love that engages. The love that invites. Specifically, I am advocating a love that invites people into our homes to share a meal. The love that wages war with a butter knife. The love that knows, as again Butterfield puts it, that “there is a difference between acceptance and approval.” The love that is not afraid to invite the drastically different into our homes.

Have you ever noticed how often the gospel writers show Jesus eating with people? Think of Jesus eating in the home of Zacchaeus, the traitorous tax collector. Picture Jesus eating in the home of a Pharisee while an immoral woman showers him with the deep love known only by the deeply forgiven. See Jesus as he dines with many tax collectors and sinners despite the disapproving protests of the religious elite. Jesus never sinned with sinners, but he certainly ate with them and through this act many who were far from God came home.

Your home (or apartment or dorm room or mobile home or wherever you live!) could be the battlefield where God tears down strongholds and takes hearts and minds captive to the love and beauty of Christ. The love you show someone who is different than you – a different sexual orientation, a different political affiliation, a different religion, a different vocabulary – by inviting them to share your home could be the very weapon that God infuses with divine power to tear down the resistance in their hearts to the gospel that will save them.

When was the last time you shared a meal with someone who was far from God? How many “sinners” know the shape of your dinner table? What prodigals know the tone of God’s reconciling love because they heard it in your invitation to supper?

May we love like Jesus.

 

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