Sharing a Meal with Unbelievers

If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. (1 Cor 10:27)

It is easy to overlook parts of Scripture that aren’t the main focus of a passage. This week Paul mentions eating at someone’s house and the focus is on what you do while there. If they serve meat, do you ask where it came from? But let’s not overlook something that, for the early Christian convert in Corinth, may have been taken for granted. These believers were new to the faith and in the small minority among the religions in their city, so surely they had relationships with those outside the faith. Because of this, it would not be unexpected for them to share a meal with the pagans in the community.

I bring that up because what was a basis for this question is something that is increasingly a non-issue for many Christians today. How often are you actually invited over for dinner by an unbeliever?

If not, or at least if you have hardly any interactions with non-believers, that is a problem. How are we to have a witness to be concerned about in the first place if there is no one around us to witnes to?

Recently I saw an article on Christianity Today that revealed some statistics that display how big a problem this is becoming. In the article, which you can read in its entirety here, it is reported that “one out of five non-Christians in North America doesn’t know any Christians.”[1] That means 20 percent of the population, more than 13 million people, don’t personally know any Christians. How are they to hear of Christ? Do we assume here in the United States that they’ll just soak it in by osmosis? Christians need to be a people gathered, but not isolated. We gather to encourage each other, to worship, to be refreshed, and then we are sent. We need to see the “other”, a category Paul lifts up as deserving of our love, and seek them out.

Even if now you’re afraid of sharing your faith, let the first step at least be sharing a meal.

  1. In this report, North America is categorized along the lines that the UN uses, which designates Mexico as Latin America. ↩

Aids for Knowing the Story of the Gospel

As I mentioned last week in talking about 1 Peter, we ought to be able to give a reason for the hope that we have in Christ. If what we believe is important, we should be able to tell others about it. We should know the gospel.

We talked about this in a class recently and at one point I put together a review of most of the weeks. It served as a reminder to jog our memories, but it will also work as a good cheat sheet in learning some short, clear descriptions of what Jesus has done for us.

Here’s a quick summary of what is included on the attached PDF. We talked about how Christ is our sacrificial lamb (1) and our passover (2). He brings life to us, undoing the death brought about by Adam (3). While evil was done to him, like Joseph, he worked in the situation to bring life to us (4). Then lastly, in reference to Moses lifting up a bronze snake that brought healing for all who looked on it, Jesus gives eternal life for all who look upon him (5).

Each of these has a picture to help us remember. Some are more straightforward, like a sheep in the bushes reminding us of Abraham and Isaac. Others are more of the “you had to be there” variety. But again, let me summarize quickly.

We have a picture of the door with the blood placed on it as passover, then next to it the cross laid over it, showing the blood of Christ that now saves us.

The third picture is to represent how in Adam, his sin at the tree brought death to all. Then in Christ, the “Second Adam”, which you read through from left to right, but this time include the two items inserted with a carrot, went to the tree (the cross) and died for us, bring life to us.

The fourth picture represent how Joseph and Jesus both left their father’s house, suffered injustice, were thrown into a pit (the grave in Jesus case), but then through those events saved others (life preserver).

Lastly we have the snake that brought death, then the bronze snake that when looked upon brought life, just as our sin (missing the mark) brings death, but looking to Christ brings us eternal life.

Hope this helps. If you still are left scratching your head about these, let me know and maybe I can help.


Five stories of Jesus we should be able to tell. (Click for full-size PDF)


Walking along “Romans Road”

Making our way through Romans reminds me of something I learned as a kid that is called “Romans Road.” It is meant to be an evangelistic tool that uses several verses taken from throughout Romans to tell the story of what God has done for us. It goes something like this (you’ll find some versions that vary a bit):

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

The wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23a

But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23b

God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

We see our fallen condition, sin, and its consequence, death. And there is nothing we can do about it. But Christ takes that consequence on himself, dying for us, and gives to us his righteousness and eternal life. All we must do is place our trust in him. In Christ we are no longer guilty, for there is no condemnation in him.

It summarizes nicely a lot of what Paul writes, but it is good to remember that this is just a selection of the book, and if it said it all, Paul probably wouldn’t have gone on to write the entire letter. But it tries to lay out our sinfulness and hopeless condition apart from the saving work of God. In the end, Jesus is the only hope for this world.

We should not forget that emphasis–for the world. Jesus’ death is not only something for me personally, but it is a cosmic event that changed all of creation. His death and resurrection change everything, and as Paul writes in his opening, Jesus is now declared to be Son of God and is the judge over all the earth. In his humility and sacrifice he has been glorified and given the name that is above all names. The world is truly a different place because of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I hope this helps you better understand some of what Paul is writing to the church in Rome. These are also some great passages to commit to memory, if you’re in the market for some new memory verses.

If You Do Just One Thing Today

If you do only one thing today, make sure you are able to share with someone why Good Friday is Good.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1