There is something special about food. From a scientific standpoint we know that we need to eat food in order to survive. We know we need to eat for energy, to absorb vital nutrients, and to grow and maintain muscle mass. But for most of us, eating is not a chore or necessary evil. For most us, eating is a joy! If I am being honest it is something I enjoy a little too much. I have to intentionally plan what I will eat and when or I would overconsume, simply because I like food. There is something else that is special about food, it is a catalyst for community.
Cultures all over the world have recognized the truth that food is best enjoyed in the company of others. It gives us a reason to sit down together, something to do while we converse, and even something to hide behind if we are feeling shy or unsure of what to say. Perhaps it is no surprise then that food is often used this way in the Bible. If you read through the stories of Jesus we quickly find that he spent a lot of time breaking bread with others. This is more than just him needing to eat, it was his way of connecting with people. In the culture of the Ancient Near East eating was seen as a sign of fellowship, of friendship. That’s why when Jesus eats with known sinners it causes quit a fuss. This is even reflected in the Old Testament through what was called “the bread of presence”. This was a special bread that was set in the temple every Sabbath and would remain there all week. It was a reminder that God’s presence was with them! It was a reminder that God fellowshipped with and befriended the people of Israel. We read in Acts 4 that the early church was also committed to breaking bread together. Most scholars believe that this included taking communion together, but I’ve never seen anyone argue that it didn’t include them sharing an actual meal. There is something special about food, it is a catalyst for community.
Maybe this is one of the reasons that food is often a part of men’s ministry. It is a great way to connect with other men! In light of that truth, would you consider taking some time to initially break bread with some of the men of our church? You can invite someone into your home or go out and grab lunch. If inviting someone to share a meal one-on-one is too intimidating, we have the prefect opportunity this summer. Over the course of the summer we are having three men’s barbeques. Each of these will start with a casual time to hang out, play some games, and of course, eat food. At the end of each evening we will have a couple of men share their testimonies so we can be encouraged by what God is doing in our lives. It’s as simple as that. So, lets make some time to come together this summer and break bread. Let’s take an intentional step to build a sense of community as the men of Bethel. And let’s make the most of the gift that food really is!
-Matthew Haslar, Adult Discipleship Director