By Steve Van Nattan
Drive down the boulevards of the average city anywhere in the developed world, and you will agree that food dominates our world's culture. The restaurants, kiosks, and cafes seem numberless. It is also the same in Nairobi, Lagos, and Madras. How did this happen? Answer: Men disobeyed God's command to be hospitable.
In Psalm 78:29-30, we read, 29 So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; 30 They were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, 31 The wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel.
The Bible teaches that God sometimes gives people just what they ask for. He gave them King Saul, though Samuel warned them a king would be a pain in the neck. Hezekiah got 15 more years to live, and during those years he sired one of the most wicked brats Judah ever saw, and he foolishly exposed the treasury of Israel to a wicked king.
So, we have our eating places. We eat out a lot, and we lust for the food and the attention of the waitress. We choose very carefully who will eat with us in those places, and we more often eat alone. Why? Answer: We have closed our homes. We have rejected hospitality.
Let us read how the first church behaved in this regard. Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
It is virtually impossible to be invited into the homes of the average church goer today. Worse, pastors find parsonages far from the church house in order to be left alone. Of all the people in the local church, these pastors will answer most of all. They have lead the flight from the home to special church houses.
For 1700 years the true church, excluding the high toned Reformers, met in homes. They had no other choice. Even recently, the Russian Christians met in homes. They would move all of their furniture into the yard, and they would stand wall to wall to sing and worship. In countries we tag as "developing" and "third world" the saints still go from house to house eating and breaking bread together-- they eat their bread with gladness and singleness of heart. But, of course, we are more civilized, we are more mature, our culture is.... damned to hell! The reason why people don't open their homes to the saints is clearly because they are not born again. They are christianized pagans.
The so-called Church is full-- perhaps 90%-- of people who are cultural christians (lower case intended). They want their religion neat and tidy and away from their personal real estate. So, God gives them what they want-- food, food, food. There is no shortage of food in the white culture. Even the "poor" can often be found over weight. I don't say they get the best diet, but I have lived in Ethiopia. Don't blow the breeze back to me about the "disadvantaged" in the USA and Europe. We have food running out of our nostrils.
Solomon said it is all vanity. It is not sin to eat-- even to feast at times-- but food is vanity. It is not spiritual, and you cannot eat yourself anywhere but into the mortuary. Do you get a buzz out of "gracious dining"? Do you spend thousands a year on high toned eateries? May I invite you to look closely into the toilet the next time you relieve yourself. God made arrangements so that your $100 dinner looks just the same in the end as the pork and beans the village tramp ate last night. Interesting isn't it? And the anaerobic bacteria in the septic tank don't mind a bit who contributes. A fool and his money are soon parted. Not in the Bible, but somehow appropriate.
So, what shall we do with our homes? In these last days, it seems to me that a very prudent thing to do with them would be to move the Lord's Church back where it started. I suggest that the home is the best place to have this primal Apostolic fellowship which we work so hard to produce everywhere else. Also, it saves thousands of dollars, shillings, pounds, and rubles. It would be an oasis in the cold lifeless communities we now have in the world's cities. I have found wonderful fellowship still exists in many Christian homes. There are folks all over the world who open their homes to the saints daily.
Now, one more thought in regard to this sick cultural pattern. Many saints will not go to the homes of other saints. They avoid churches where they go from house to house. They never want to be caught owing anyone anything. So, to them I say, "Go dine out tonight. Fill your noses with the good food of the devil's crowd. There ain't no caviar in hell." To the rest of you who know my Jesus, when you're in the area, please stop by for a cup of Mexican coffee, OK. Check first by E-Mail for directions.
By the way, and for the record, this journal and the INTERNET are no substitute for face to face Christian fellowship.