God the great and powerful (and warm and wonderful)
Thu Dec 05, 2013
by Marsha Michaelis
The top 5 posts of November
Wed Dec 04, 2013
5 reasons to open your blinds
Tue Dec 03, 2013
by Andrew Lisi
6 simple ways to write better blog posts
Mon Dec 02, 2013
by Mark Driscoll
Joy in service
Sat Nov 30, 2013
by Andrew Weiseth
Dysfunctional People Thrown Together, Somehow Managing to Be a Family
The film Little Miss Sunshine is the story of a girl named Olive who by default gets through to the regional final of the Little Miss Sunshine beauty contest. So she and her dysfunctional family head off in their dysfunctional van. She’s a plain girl with big glasses about to enter a beauty contest. At one point Olive says, “I don’t want to be a loser because Daddy hates losers.” Her father is a failed motivational speaker. His conversation consists of clichéd aphorisms that berate people for being losers.
The irony, of course, is that he and his family are losers. At one points he says, “There are two kinds of people in this world: winners and losers.” On the word “losers,” the camera pans round his family: his foul-mouthed father, his suicidal brother-in-law, his son who refuses to speak, his down-trodden wife desperately trying to hold them all together, and himself, the failed businessman who can’t face his failure. And they’re thrown together in a VW van which is itself dysfunctional – the door falls off, the horn is constantly on, and they have to push it to make it start every time. I sometimes look around my congregation and see a bunch of dysfunctional people thrown together, somehow managing to be family. And I smile at the ridiculous grace of God.
No One Gets Left Behind
There’s a moment in the film when they suddenly realize Olive isn’t in the van. They’ve left her behind at the gas station. We see the van moving across the screen in one direction and they collect her – without stopping because they can’t restart the van. Then we see the van moving back across in the other direction and we hear the father’s voice: “No-one gets left behind, no-one gets left behind.” That’s the church: the place where no-one gets left behind.
In this culture our shared meals offer a moment of grace. A sign of something different. A pointer to God’s coming world.
We live in a graceless culture. A culture of competition in which we’re all trying to get ahead. A culture of insecurity in which we’re all trying to prove ourselves. A culture of spite in which we hold grudges, envy success, protect ourselves. In this culture our shared meals offer a moment of grace. A sign of something different. A pointer to God’s coming world. “Life in the kingdom,” says Peter Leithart, “demands that we adopt a new set of table manners, and as we observe this etiquette, we become increasingly civilized according to the codes of the city of God.” Around the table we offer friendship and celebrate life. Our meals offer a divine moment. An opportunity for people to be seduced by grace into a better life, a truer life, a more human existence.
One of the great things about mission through meals is that it enfranchises the people of God. You don’t have to understand missiological jargon or hold a crowd with your oratory. You don’t even need to be able to cook. You just need to be someone who eats and someone who loves Jesus.
Meals create natural opportunities to share the gospel in a context that resonates powerfully with what you’re saying.
Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries, create programs, or put on events. He ate meals. If you routinely share meals and you have a passion for Jesus then you’ll be doing mission. It’s not that meals alone save people. People are saved through the gospel message. But meals create natural opportunities to share that message in a context that resonates powerfully with what you’re saying.
You Have to Eat
One of the great things about doing mission and community through meals is it doesn’t add anything to your all-too-busy schedule. You already eat three meals a day. That’s 21 ready-made opportunities each week to do mission and community.
You could meet up with another Christian for breakfast on the way to work – read the Bible together, offer accountability, pray for one another. You could meet up with colleagues at lunchtime. You could invite your neighbors over for a meal. Better still, invite them over with another family from church. That way you get to do mission and Christian community at the same time, all the while letting your unbelieving friends see the way the gospel impacts our relationships as Christians (John 13:34-35; 17:20-21). Francis Schaeffer says:
Don’t start with a big program. Don’t suddenly think you can add to your church budget and begin. Start personally and start in your home. I dare you. I dare you in the name of Jesus Christ. Do what I am going to suggest. Begin by opening your home for community … You don’t need a big program. You don’t have to convince your session or board. All you have to do is open your home and begin.
For more on meals, mission, and community, check out Tim Chester's new Re:Lit book, A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table