Yesterday I shared all about how much I am loving the unexpected benefits of this diet I am on. Today, it’s the part I’m not so fond of.
As I was bemoaning just how difficult it is for me to make food for my family that I can’t eat, and how equally difficult it is to eat out or make plans with friends that include a meal, the connection hit me.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
The sharing of meals is one of the core essentials for creating community and meeting our need for fellowship and intimacy with one another. I knew this in theory, but it has become much more than theory to me now, I feel the need deeply and have a new heart of compassion for those who are not able to know that fellowship on a regular basis. But it also allows me to better understand how community values and togetherness have declined over the years – even within the church.
When our country was primarily agricultural-based, it was very important for communities to come together, work together, and either fail or succeed together. There was far more interdependence. And there was far more compassion for one another and an eagerness to help each other out. We still see that spirit of comradeship in our country when there are natural disasters and sometimes in individual situations like a family losing everything to a house fire.
But on a daily basis, how many families/people do you know who actually live like they believe they have a responsibility to their neighbor and other community members to join together and make sure each others’ daily needs are being taken care of? More and more the attitude has become one of backing away and justifying it by saying the government (or some other agency) needs to take care of it.
Lack of fellowship and community leads to discouragement and dismay. In small part, that is what I fight the most with this diet. I want to fellowship over a meal with my sisters and brothers and neighbors and friends. But, I want to do it without restrictions or constraint. And thus, my focus and motives come into question.
A dear friend asked me to join her for lunch yesterday – and I hesitated and tried to come up with something I could bring with me or stop and buy so that I wouldn’t be a nuisance. But she talked through my food choices with me and discovered she already had just the perfect items so we could meet as we planned and enjoy a meal together. It was such a blessing to sit down and have someone join with me in what I was allowed to eat. And it turned out to be just perfect for us both.
Our fellowship was sweet and we were able to encourage one another and solve the problems of the world together (okay, so maybe not the whole world – but some of the immediate issues in our worlds). But I could have missed out if either of us hadn’t been willing to think a bit outside the box and collaborate with one another – if I had not been willing to talk about my restrictions and just not gone, or if she had not wanted to sort through the options to find out what I can eat and what she had that would match up.
But we did. And it was wonderful. And that is how it needs to be in every area of our lives – a willingness on all parts to be transparent, to vulnerable, to work together to find viable solutions that meed the needs and supply that we have together in community.
Generosity with joy and gladness! YES! That is the hallmark of the Body of Christ!