Continuing in 1st Corinthians chapter 10, Paul is now wrapping up a discussion about our favorite topic — food! This discussion began in chapter 8 and now, three whole chapters have been taken up with answering a question about food. The question seemed simple enough but a well-crafted answer was required, better than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Paul has heaped reason upon reason for his advice, including warnings of danger and encouragement toward love and care for each other.
But now Paul adds a surprising final element to the discussion of enjoying meals at the idol’s temple. Before I tell you what that element is, we have to agree on something. Agree on what? That meals are about more than just getting food into our body so we can keep working! Unfortunately in our culture that places a higher value on productivity than relationship, meals have morphed to reflect this ideal.
How long do you take for lunch? Do you even take lunch? Have you ever felt like eating was “wasting time”? How much do you eat in the car, on the go? How does dinner time look at your home? Do you sit at the table together? Are you on your electronic devices?
The answers to these questions are indicative of a culture that has experienced a shift in the meaning and understanding of the relationship aspect of food and community meals. Meals are about relationship and community. There are seven Jewish calendar “main events” and six of them are “feasts”. Even the Lord’s Supper represents God’s choice to be remembered at a meal. But for the church in our culture, communion has become, in most churches, a little nibble of matzah and tiny sip of grape juice, all facing the same direction while a priest or pastor recites the familiar but often meaningless words: “The blood of Christ, shed for you.”
Meals are vital to relationship and offer three big things besides a full belly. One is “inclusion”, the second is “intimacy”, and the other is “sharing”. Remember, in many cultures they still eat with their hands and not utensils. Remember, Jesus dipped his hand in the “sop” with Judas. We blow through hand sanitizer and fear germs. Sharing food is intimate. Think about it!
Given this backdrop, sharing food in a group setting says that I am part of that group and what that group represents and values. It is true of communion in church. Is it true elsewhere? Here is the big question: “If Satan, or a demon, called you up and invited you to dinner, would you go??” To understand how this fits into the picture and our passage, listen in to this message as Pastor Steve closes out this section by finishing up 1st Corinthians chapter 10!