Breaking Bread Together

When I was 11 years old, my dad moved the family from Upstate New York to Northern Ohio. We didn’t know anyone. We didn’t have any friends. We just kinda had to figure it out. Because my dad was a preacher, everyone in the church wanted to meet us. I remember it being a whirlwind just trying to keep up with everything that was going on. The one thing I do remember was the food. Specifically, I remember going to one of the family’s houses to have dinner.

When we got there, each of us had an empty plate. I was pretty confused at the time because I thought the point of coming over for dinner was to eat. Needless to say, that plate wasn’t empty long as the hostess for the night brought out a big covered pan, and inside were, what looked like, cooked baby chickens.  One was put on each of our plates along with potatoes and vegetables. That night, I learned what a Cornish hen was, and I was not disappointed. Dinner was delicious. Dessert was better. Then the craziest thing happened. They gave each of us gifts. They didn’t have to. They just did. We laughed most of the night and had some great conversation. They even talked about stuff on a kid's level for us. After that night, they became some of our closest friends in the church, all because of sharing a meal together and showing us kindness. 

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:42

Yesterday, we talked about how the early church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching. Today, I want to focus on the next part of that verse: the fellowship, to the breaking of bread. The Church is a lot of things; a place of worship, a home for the hurting, and a means to learn more about God’s Word. The Church at its best is a community of believers that chase after God, love each other, carry each other’s burdens, and live out life together. Simply attending on Sundays will never be enough to really experience the Church. It’s merely a window into what could be. Church services happen on Sundays. The Church living out her faith is everything else. Paul talks about the marks of a true Christian in Romans 12. The first five verses deal specifically with how we treat each other.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Romans 12:9–14

If these are some of the traits of a true Christian, then we obviously need to be in the presence of one another. You can’t love, honor, serve, fill needs, or be hospitable if you aren’t in the presence of others OFTEN. When I was serving in Nicholasville, my family had the pleasure of being in a community group with 4 other amazing families. Community Groups were our version of small groups or life groups as some churches call them. We met every Sunday night at one of the family’s houses to share in a meal, fellowship, and to spend time in the Word. Our children would all eat together and play while the parents discussed. It was the highlight of our week. 

If I’m being completely honest, it wasn’t the study time that brought us closer together. It was the meal. That’s when we would talk about life, our kids, our work. We would share victories and heartbreaks. These were the things that took us past just a study group and into the role of extended family. We would go out together with the whole group or even just one other family. The guys would go to movies together. We went to King’s Island as a group. As a matter of fact, I had hurt my foot before a King’s Island trip and the other parents helped Rhea take the kids on rides. We babysat for each other, checked in on each other when life got hard. We really were a family.

When I look at the first century Church, that’s what I see. People who cared beyond just “We go to the same church”, and more into “These people are my family.” This isn’t just for your earthly benefit. This helps our hearts be “blameless in holiness” before God Himself. Paul says this in 1 Thessalonians.

Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 3:11–13

Jim Rohn once said, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” While this isn’t scripture, there is a lot of truth here. The people we spend the most time with tend to be the people who affect WHO we are the most. It’s no wonder that God would want us around each other in the Church as much as possible. We all tend to take on personality traits, interests, and the beliefs of the people we are around the most. Do you want to be more holy? Spend more time around holy people. Do you want to show more of Christ’s love? Be around people who are doing that. 

And it all starts at the dinner table. All through the Bible we read of meals that were eaten and the discussions that were had. We read about Jesus eating with tax collectors and some of the most vile people, and we see the change that happened because of that meal. We also read of a meal that was had in an upper room with Jesus and His disciples. 

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Luke 22:19–20

Communion is a meal we share weekly in our church, and it’s the most important part of what we do each Sunday as we remember Jesus crucified and risen again. The ancient Jews had literal feasts that they celebrated at God’s mandate. There are ten times recorded in the Bible of Jesus having meals with others. The importance of a meal together can’t be underestimated. Food is referred to in the Bible 1,207 times. God is very intentional about what is in His Holy Bible. Singing songs together is a wonderful expression. Studying scripture together is vital for the disciple. Enjoying the company of other believers in a meal fills the soul. 

Do yourself a favor this week and invite another family over to your house for a meal. Get to know them and their children. Fill your bellies with food and your hearts with the sweet fellowship that comes from living life together. This is what the Church looks like when we don’t just attend our weekly services but instead live AS the Church.

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