Whether you eat or drink . . .
Few things in this world are so delightful, hilarious, and unpredictable as being a pastor to children and young adults. It so happens that at Trinity Church, we have a ton of them (by my last count, it’s somewhere around 47 under the age of 18), so I have lots of joy to go around!
A couple of weeks ago, I was preaching in Genesis 1 on “the image of God”; and I issued the following challenge to the children and older youth:
If God made us to “image” (mirror, resemble) Him
in our capacities (to think, to plan, to choose and decide, to act, to evaluate, etc.),
in our character (wisdom, righteousness, holiness, goodness, love, etc.),
in our callings (to be prophets who know and speak; kings who build, steward, manage, and govern; and priests who worship, serve, commune in love, and protect), and
in our conduct (our way of relating to God, to our fellow humans, and the subhuman creation),
then how do we (1 Cor 10:31) “image” God in a meal (including what leads up to the meal, the eating and drinking itself, and what flows from the meal)?
I asked for a collective response of 25 answers to this question, and here [drumroll, please!] are the 52 answers (!) proposed by my young friends (largely unedited):
1. We mirror God’s image in the very creation of a meal. We were made to create.
2. We like to make a meal that is proper, with things that go together well, as God created the world in good order and working well together.
3. Mummy makes the meal in an orderly way. She doesn’t crush the eggs on her head or something like that.
4. We like to have a meal that is beautiful, with different colors and different kinds of food, not just all one thing or one color, the way God made the world with variety.
5. We eat with good manners to show consideration for the people around us, which is showing love for them. We image Him when we love people through our manners.
6. God enjoyed His creation. We mirror His enjoyment through eating our meals.
7. We have conversation at our meals, and God is a talkative God.
8. We image God by working together when we cook and prepare a meal, and when we set the table in order to eat that meal.
9. We image God in the meal by feeding ourselves and keeping ourselves healthy.
10. We image God in the meal by tasting the food that was provided for us (using one of our five senses).
11. We image God in the meal by fellowshipping with our friends and family.
12. My Dad organized a dinner for his friend, a man who has had a troubled life. The dinner was to celebrate their 30 years of friendship. Some of friend’s family came for the meal (people we had never met) and our friend seemed truly blessed throughout it. We image God by inviting people in who likely would not be inclined to have such a gathering in their home.
13. We thank God for our food.
14. We thank God for the people we eat food with.
15. We thank God for the money to buy food.
16. We enjoy the flavors of the food.
17. We eat the food diligently.
18. One of the best ways that a meal can become so enjoyable is by going back and truly evaluating who you are before the Creator, and just realizing how amazing it is that He actually thinks enough about you not only to save you, but to give you the gift of an amazing world where the sun and the rain (and a whole bunch of other factors that I don’t have the time to list) play their perfect roles, so that in time what ends up on your table is the exact result of God putting it there just for you. That little pea on my plate, whether as a seed planted by hands, or blown to fertile ground by the breath of God was made just for me to enjoy. It was determined by God along time ago that that little pea was going to be just for me in a specific point in time . . . so I eat my pea. Definitely a mindset. If you have the mindset, you can’t help but be thankful . . . even for your pea.
19. One of the things that I think is most important when it comes to meals is realizing that although every person is unique and has different ideas of what tastes good or bad, there must be a desire to acquire a taste for the gifts that God has given us. I think beer is great example. On the other hand, I think it is fascinating that every person has his or her own unique sense of what tastes are good and which ones are bad. It is like having a second fingerprint. No one can enjoy or dislike the taste of something as strongly as you can. No one will ever know exactly how good or bad something tastes to you.
20. When a meal is enjoyed the way God intended it to be, there is an overall spirit of joy, that may not necessarily be something that those involved are able to communicate. Out of the gift of a good meal should flow a bond of love between the recipients, which in turn leads to rejoicing. All very similar to how the Trinity works?
21. When planning the meal, we need to choose nutrients to help us sustain our bodily function. God provided us with everything that we need to sustain life, we need to make good choices with food so that we can provide our bodies with the fuel it needs.
22. Just as Jesus sat with his disciples, so are we to invite our friends to eat with us.
23. When you clean up, do it joyfully. Jesus was a joyful servant, and he joyfully cleanses our hearts.
24. We should talk politely to each other, just as Jesus did . . . even to his enemies.
25. We should be caring, serving other people before ourselves.
26. We should not be wasteful, and finish the task set before us . . . eating all the food on our plate.
27. We should pray before a meal, to show that we are thankful for what God has given us. When Jesus prayed over the loaves and fish, he blessed them.
28. We should be patient and listen to each other and not interrupt when someone is speaking.
29. We should wait until everyone is served before we start eating, just as Jesus did.
30. We should show love to our guests, by serving them things that they will love. Taking the time and cooking the most delicious food can show how much we value our relationships.
31. Well, Jesus ate and drank. [So we eat and drink as those renewed in Christ to bear God’s image.]
32. I ate at my neighbor’s house and my sister and I prayed. Then, our friends decided to pray also in Hebrew (they are orthodox Jewish).
33. God gave us food and drink to enjoy.
34. I think that since everyone at the meal with us is made in the image of God, something we should try and do would be to listen to them. What do they teach us about God? How does their glory as children of God point to the Father? What has God put in their character, capacities, and callings that he also wants for us? As children feast with parents, what are the parents trying to show them or tell them about their true Father? and as parents feast with their little ones, how does their children’s character remind them of what Jesus says about becoming like a child to enter the kingdom of God?
35. Don’t be selfish with eating (eating two hot dogs before my brother has one).
36. Properly obeying my parents (no mess, don’t drink all my water at once, no toys at the table).
37. Fun with my family (laughing and joking).
38. Thankful for the food God has given us.
39. Thankful for the jobs God gave my parents.
40. Clearing the table afterwards.
41. Setting up the table (helping Mommy).
42. No potty talk at the table.
43. No fighting or bad words.
44. No complaining about eating foods I don’t like.
45. Asking to be excused from the table.
46. Helping my little brother.
47. Family worship.
48. Hospitality: we take people in our homes to serve them; we put out our finest linen, finest foods, finest drinks, because the Lord does not cut corners; we do what is affordable.
49. We care about the people we invite to our homes, the way God cares about us.
50. We speak to others during a meal in a godly manner towards one another; we learn about one another so we may pray for each other.
51. We prepare meals using knowledge and wisdom that God has given us.
52. We give thanks before a meal; all things begin and end with God.