Read Matthew 9:9-13
Remember the childhood quintessential sharing of a lunch? You know, two children sitting shoulder to shoulder on a bench swinging their legs that don’t yet reach the ground. One child has a full lunch box and the other just an apple. They shyly eye one another. Then, the one with the full lunch shares his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The other one gladly accepts the gracious gift. Both have grins on their faces as they eat together – one grateful to have received the half sandwich so his belly doesn’t grumble all afternoon and the other satisfied to have met the need of a friend .. . BOTH thrilled to have the other to call friend.
It’s really not about the food. It’s about the sharing. The sharing of food. The sharing of conversation. The sharing of friendship. I have a friend who periodically invites me to get coffee with her . This is so sweet because, you see, she doesn’t even like coffee and she knows I do. She doesn’t care about the refreshments we enjoy together as much as the relationship we cultivate.
When we eat together, we make time for listening to others. I had a professor in college who shared with us how he met with parents of his students at McDonald’s. Over coffee or French fries, they would discuss their student’s needs. This meeting outside of school in a comfortable setting over food demonstrated this teacher’s desire to develop a relationship with the families he worked with. He would listen and offer advice and build trust.
The example of Jesus eating with tax collectors helps us understand the relationship building that is vital to sharing the hope of Jesus with others. Jesus stopped after a busy day and made time for conversation over a meal. He ate, not only with his friends (Luke 10:38) and religious leaders (Luke 7:36), but with outcasts and disreputable people (Matthew 9:10). We can follow this example by devoting time to eating together with people we are building relationships with. We can be intentional about who we choose to eat with. Do you have time for a cup of coffee or burgers with a friend? How about donuts with your daughter? Or ice cream with your son? Who could you invite over for a meal?