“A Meal with Jesus”- Book Recommendation

I recently read an excellent little book by Tim Chester called “A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, & Mission around the Table.   It’s a study of several portions of Luke’s Gospel that deal with Jesus at various meals.  I was greatly challenged by much of what was said, especially in the practical applications of hospitality in cultures where even families don’t eat meals together anymore.  There’s also some challenging chapters on the ways we can use food and even hospitality to feed our idolatry rather than worship God and bless others. I immediately passed it onto my wife for her reading shelf since it’s hard to start applying new ways of hospitality without your wife being on board!

Here are some quotes to entice you more:

“Meals can be a visual representation of our hearts. If our hearts are concerned for position, honor, status, or approval, then that will be reflected in our dining etiquette. Consider how your meals express your vision for life.  Think about who’s invited, how they’re served, what you hope to achieve, and the layout of your home.  Do they express the vision of the kingdom of God?”

“Many people love the idea of the church as a community. But when we eat together, we encounter not some theoretical community, but real people with all their problems and quirks. The meal table is an opportunity to give up our proud ideals by which we judge others and accept in their place the real community created by the cross of Christ, with all its brokenness.”

“If guests offer to help, then take them up on their offer. Your aim is to love, not impress. Jesus himself was the recipient of hospitality more than he provided it. Letting others serve us creates a relationship of equality and intimacy.”

There are a lot more little tidbits here worth reading.  I found some of the thoughts on meals very similar to Eugene Peterson’s writing in “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places” from which I hope to put some quotes up in the near future.

Exegesis and Systematics and Church

from N.T. Wright’s Justification, which I’m currently working my way through:

“But the present debate about Paul and justification is taking place between people most of whom declare their allegiance to Scripture in general, and perhaps to Paul in particular, as the place where and the means by which the living God has spoken, and still speaks, with life-changing authority. This ought to mean, but does not always mean, that exegesis–close attention to the actual flow of the text, to the questions that it raises in itself and the answers it gives in and of itself–should remain the beginning and the end of the process. Systematize all you want in between–we all do it; there is noting wrong with it and much to be said for it, particularly when it involves careful comparing of different treatments of similar topics in different contexts.  But start with exegesis, and remind yourself that the end in view is not a tidy system, sitting in hard covers on a shelf where one may look up “correct answers,” but the sermon or the shared pastoral reading, or the scriptural word to a Synod or other formal church gathering, or indeed the life of witness to the love of God, through all of which the church is built up and energized for mission, the Christian is challenged, transformed and nurtured in the faith, and the unbeliever is confronted with the shocking but joyful news that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world.  That is letting Scripture be Scripture.”

His freedom to be Christ’s- Bonhoeffer quote

from Life Together:

“Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them.  As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love.  The other person needs to retain his independence from me; to be loved for what he is, as one for whom Christ became man, died, and rose again, for whom Christ bought forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Because Christ has long since acted decisively for my brother, before I could begin to act, I must leave him his freedom to be Christ’s; I must meet him only as the person that he already is in Christ’s eyes.  This is the meaning of the proposition that we can meet others only through the mediation of Christ.  Human love constructs its own image of the other person, of what he is and what he should become.  It takes the life of the other person into its own hands.  Spiritual love recognizes the true image of the other person which he has received from Jesus Christ, the image that Jesus Christ himself embodied and would stamp upon all men.”

“No safe investment”- CS Lewis on Love

from C. S. Lewis’s The Four Loves:

“There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, give it to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.  The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation   The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

“Resurrection People” Series

The week leading up to Easter I did a series of daily quotes on the topic of Resurrection.  Here’s all the links in one convenient spot if you’re interested.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8/1

The Well-Adjusted Jesus- CS Lewis

from The Four Loves, referring to the problems he saw with classifying all human problems as psychological or pathological and how “normal” should not necessarily be our goal:

“We have only seen one such Man. And He was not at all like the psychologist’s picture of the integrated, balanced, adjusted, happily married, employed, popular citizen.  You can’t really be very well “adjusted” to your world if it says you “have a devil” and ends by nailing you up naked to a stake of wood.”

“Dare to be a sinner…” from Bonhoeffer

Finished reading “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer with my wife recently.  I hope to add some more quotes from it in the near future (though I will probably have to re-read the book since we don’t underline when we read together!).

from chapter 5- “Confession and Communion”…

“He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone.  It may be that Christians, notwithstanding corporate worship, common prayer, and all their fellowship in service, may still be left to their loneliness.  The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because, though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners.  The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner.  So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship.  We dare not be sinners.  Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous.  So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy.  The fact is that we are sinners!

But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you.  He wants you as you are; He does not want anything from you, a sacrifice, a work; He wants you alone.  “My son, give me thine heart” (Prov. 23:26).  God has come to you to save the sinner.  Be glad!  This message is liberation through truth.  You can hide nothing from God.  The mask you wear before men will do you no good before Him.  He wants to see you as you are, He wants to be gracious to you.  You do not have to go on lying to yourself and your brothers, as if you were without sin; you can dare to be a sinner.  Thank God for that; He loves the sinner but He hates sin.”