Dinner Table Conversations With Jesus
Dr. RB McFee
“ Let us not become weary in doing good”
Earlier today I was listening to K-Love, a Christian radio station. Between praise songs they often share an inspiring story, or read scripture verse of the day, or have a well known speaker share an important insight for better living.
I was especially moved by the DJ Randi who, at the end of her shift she shared with the audience how much they mattered – to God, and to her. She reminded us about building each other up. She then went one step further by inviting listeners to reach out via her social media page if they needed to talk or if she could pray with them.
It was a powerful witness she provided. She didn’t have to do it. Highly popular in Christian broadcasting circles, Randi could have merely said God bless and have a nice weekend. Instead, she used her platform to offer kindness, to affirm those who might feel marginalized, alone, sad, unloved.
And she offered the gift of herself, offering not just to pray for, but pray with someone.
Thinking back to how often we offer to pray for someone… in and of itself a gift to be sure, but do we go the extra step, the step Jesus would and did take, to pray with someone, to take and make their burden ours, too?
When we give of ourselves we’ve given a precious gift; it is in the Spirit of our Savior.
Do we give of ourselves – purchase an extra cup of hot tea, one for us, one for the homeless person out in the cold? Do we say something nice to someone from a place of love, if for no other reason than we can? Beyond consolation at a friend being under the weather, do we offer chicken soup or other comfort food? Do we share our unique talents and skills to folks who might need our advice, counsel or comfort?
Love is an action, not a passive word, but the result of a powerful interaction. It is a gift, often represented by kindnesses given perhaps when undeserved, but merited by our commitment to the Savior we profess to love, and follow.
Love means doing what God has commanded us, and He has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.”
2 John 1:6 NLT
Not long after DJ Randi signed off, a short spot by Reverend Max Lucado came on, where he shared thoughts about building people up. He challenged us to think in terms of behaving like Jesus; to share love and uplift people with our words and actions.
It seemed today everywhere I went – social media, K-Love, the scriptures - all pointed to the need to live out our faith, to animate our words, to put life and breath to the scriptures, to be more intentional about our spiritual life, our life in general, our daily efforts to be Christ-like, loving, good.
Consider the K-Love daily scripture….
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
As Christians can we really separate ourselves into the spiritual realm we have committed to, and the earthly realm we currently reside to fulfill and grow God’s Kingdom in this realm?
Jesus understood human nature –He was after all born in the flesh. Sinless yes, but no less human in terms of feeling pain and joy, laughing and crying, loving, and forgiving. In spite of innumerable challenges, deprivation, and rudeness from His fellow creation, Jesus chose to be kind when He didn’t have to be.
Jesus taught us to love, to forgive. Yet how often does the base part of human nature try to distract our behaviors? How many among us have had the opportunity to be kind or snarky, and for whatever reason – chose the latter when Jesus would have chosen the former?
Put differently, if it was easy to be kind to those who are not kind, where would Christ fit into all this? As He reminded us, it is easy to be nice to folks nice to us. How much harder to do so with folks who intentionally antagonize or try to hurt us. But we can never forget, we belong to Jesus – His ways, His exhortations, His love – we profess being His, we must be, and act as His, too.
Jesus knew, and told us there is a Heavenly blessing in being kind to those who don’t reciprocate benevolence to us. I could literally fill a chapter, if not an entire book with the full range of exhortations about being civil, kind, courteous, and speaking goodness over others that are written throughout the Word of God. Consider….
“….to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone
Easier said than done? If it were easy we wouldn’t need Christians!
Funny we refer to the Bible as “The Word of God,” even quoting it as Ex Cathedra. We talk about it as if the scriptures were our marching orders through life (they are), and yet find ways to hurt each other, and in the process utterly ignoring Jesus’ teachings.
We pray to God, and praise Him as the Living God, fully Present in the now. Yet we often live as if He is not watching, or listening.
Which brings me to the dinner table.
Whenever I need to regroup, to get my thoughts in order, I often sit at the dinner table. In many ways it was the spiritual and intellectual salon of my growing up, and even adulthood.
As a kid, my parents set certain loving ground rules about the meal time. It was a time of agape – love. Jesus was a very present part of the meal – the Provider of our blessings. Which meant we never started a meal without saying grace – whether at home or in a restaurant.
In addition to lively conversation, and the meal, at dinner mom, dad and I went around the table and talked about “what did we learn that day, and what we did to make the world a little better than we found it.”
In a sense we lovingly held each other accountable.
Clearly I didn’t want to be the slacker in the group, so I made sure I could answer both questions honestly and meaningfully. I won’t fib – I’m human and had some “off days.” But like our Heavenly Father, my earthly parents inspired me to do better, they followed the scriptures….
“Our tongues can build others up, or they can tear them down.”
God was sitting there at every meal, paying keen attention to our conversations.
Let me ask you a question I asked myself a bit ago “what did you learn today, and what did you do to make the world a little better than you found it?”
Here’s an even deeper question….what if you could see God while you gave your answer? Would you want to answer “nothing” to either question in the Presence of the Almighty?
Well in reality we are asked that question every day, in the Presence of, and by our Lord.
It dawned on me as a practicing Christian – key word practicing - I need to hold myself accountable even more so than I normally have done. As such, I have recommitted to those dinner table practices with Jesus who is clearly visible in my spirit’s eye.
To be sure, God sees our every movement, action, hears every conversation long before we confess our mistakes, or proudly proclaim our good deeds. But might we do less of the former, and more of the latter if we really acted on our belief that God is in this very place and space as we are.
Going one step further – God is in us as the Holy Spirit which means the Almighty has a front row seat to everything we think, say and do.
I wonder if God were a visible referee in stripes standing by us, how often would we be ‘flagged?’ It gives one pause to ponder “what did we learn today, and what did we do to make the world a little better than we found it?”
So I invite us to the dinner table with Jesus, just as it might have been at the home of Martha and Mary, or the many Shabbas meals He celebrated with the Disciples, or the Passover Seders He led with family and friends. Today or tomorrow when you eat, light a candle or two and in so doing, say a prayer, thinking of Jesus’ Presence, and allow Him to ask you “what did you learn today, and what did you do to make the world a little better than you found it?”
That’s a dinner with Jesus worth looking forward to. And I would suspect if we each strive to live our lives as Jesus suggests in Titus, Galatians, and so many other scriptures, He, too will look around the table and say “this is a dinner conversation with you that is worth looking forward to!”
Dinner Table Conversations with Jesus; at dinner tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that, how will you and I answer Jesus when He asks “what did you learn today, and what did you do to make the world a little better than you found it?”
May we always give Jesus a good answer.