7 February, 2023

Sharing a Meal, Sharing a Life

by | 23 January, 2023

By Doug Redford 

Not long ago, a newspaper article carried this headline: “Why God Is Good at Frisch’s.” The writer observed how restaurants like Frisch’s Big Boy have always been places for people to get together and “connect”—places where people go when they need a friend to help them get through a rough spot. 

He described a conversation he overheard at a Frisch’s one evening. Two older women were talking; one of them admitted that she needed to follow through on her doctor’s orders and take better care of herself. “I just need to do it,” she said. “Anyway,” she continued after a long sigh, “God is good.” “God is good,” her friend repeated. The writer then observed how rare it is to hear such conversations these days. 

Church is another place where such honest conversations ought to happen, but perhaps don’t occur with the regularity they should. How often have people entered a church building with all kinds of “stuff” going on in their lives—personal issues or problems at home or at work? Yet these good people don’t feel church is an appropriate place to talk about such matters. No, it’s easier just to mask everything and act as though all is well when it isn’t.  

When Paul expressed his concerns to the Corinthian church about their mishandling of the Lord’s Supper, he called attention to the way their practices were fracturing the sense of unity central to the Supper. “There are divisions among you,” he noted (1 Corinthians 11:18). “Some of you go ahead with your own private suppers,” he wrote (v. 21). 

Taking Communion is a very personal matter; “everyone ought to examine themselves” before partaking, Paul instructed (v. 28). But this is also a shared meal, a “family dinner.” The word Communion (used in 1 Corinthians 10:16 and rendered as “participation” in the New International Version) is the Greek word koinonia, often defined as “common life.” Taking the koinonia of Communion should be accompanied by “giving koinonia” to those brothers and sisters who need the encouragement that believers are instructed to provide to one another (Hebrews 10:25). The former happens weekly; the latter should happen daily—in any number of settings where we can remind one another, “God is good.” 

Doug Redford has served in the preaching ministry, as an editor of adult Sunday school curriculum, and as a Bible college professor. Currently he is the minister at Highview Christian Church in Cincinnati. 

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