Just in time for Thanksgiving, I’m finishing a paper on a Biblical Theology of Table Fellowship. So, for the next 5 days, I will post short excerpts from my paper that help us think about what we do, and the significance of eating and drinking with one another. Here’s part 6: Conclusion. (Or go back to read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, or part 5 )
Following the themes that emerge from the texts on table fellowship, three points of application arise. First, the generosity of our providing and sustaining God ought to lead to a happy-hearted and thankful people. Food and drink daily remind us that we depend on sustenance that comes from beyond ourselves for our very lives. Our daily bread, itself a provision from our Heavenly Father, becomes a parable of our need to receive the Word of God as our source of life. Second, Christians should be a welcoming and hospitable people. In a culture where we have replaced the basic human experience of sharing meals with solitary diners uploading picture of food on Instagram in an effort to feel connected, open tables can provide a sense of community that has been often neglected. No longer restricted to an ethnic or cultic dietary code, we can share the intimacy of table fellowship with people from all nations.
Finally, what does table fellowship mean for our practice of voluntary association? Does our hospitality toward all people mean we can invite anyone to the Lord’s Supper? I would argue from this study that the invitation to the Lord’s Table remains exclusive for believers, both Jews and Gentiles, drawing upon several themes in Jesus’s own practice. First, because Jesus’s explicit mission statement regarding his ministry of eating and drinking was to welcome sinners into repentance and fellowship, we likewise must welcome all who will come in faith and repentance to his table. Second, because Jesus used feasting to enact a drama of eschatological intrusion in the kingdom come, the table is the church’s drama of our inclusion in the Lamb’s wedding supper. When we include those who were once outside at the Lord’s Table, we are enacting affirmation that they will be part of the wedding party on the last day. Third, communion becomes a visible identification of Jesus followers to the world; therefore the apostles command that we revoke association with the so-called brother in unrepentant sin and those who teach false doctrine. Scripture portrays food and drink as parables to dramatically enact God’s provision for us and to reveal our allegiances. Beginning in the fall, climaxing in redemption, and culminating on the last day, the narrative arc of Scripture points to a supper.
Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
These are the true words of God.