We like to think of ourselves as independent creatures. We take it as a point of pride that our strength, endurance, patience and wit got us to where we are today. But, like a tree planted by streams of water, we are in fact, entirely dependant.
We are dependent on the charity (love), justice, patience, cooperation and labour of others to not only thrive but to survive. Not only that, but we are dependent on a set of agreed standards for each of these things in order to do something as basic as crossing the street, posting a letter or driving from one side of town to the other.
Our failure to recognise this over time is what leads to a thankless and ultimately brutal society.
We see an orderly line at the post office and think that this is simply the result of human nature. But that is not the case. Such standards are underpinned by Christian values and run quite contrary to our human nature.
There is a reason for Stalin’s Russia, Liberia’s poverty and for the steel bars welded to the outside of family cars in Bangladesh.
Remove the underpinning values we depend on and we soon find ourselves re-living Lord of the Flies.
Perhaps the most obvious example of our dependence on something outside of us in order to survive is food.
Food means dependence. We are eating creatures who cannot live unless we take in something from outside of us. Ultimately, we are dependent upon God. The food we eat is dead, and only God can cause it to become life for us.
Food is also for fellowship. Sharing our food brings us into community. At the table, food is passed and shared. Such meals establish an in-group and an out-group and the table manners expressed there spill over into the values of our society.
Food is also, and always has been, central to worship. From the beginning of time, the sanctuaries in the Bible are dominated by meals. Adam and Eve walk with God in a garden of food. Abraham, and later Israel, build altars, which are tables of food through which communion with God is maintained. Food shared before Him, food shared with Him.
In the gospel, meals have a distinctly evangelistic flavour, a place where good news is shared and celebrated.
At the Lord’s Supper, we eat bread and drink wine, which are not natural products. Here, the Lord endorses our bread-making and our wine-making and invites us to come into His presence with the work of our hands and eat at His table.
All such meals, along with all food, symbolise the nature of Jesus’ mission and our utter dependence on it. Here, the Bread of Life is given to a dying world. Here, the Lamb of God is given to those who are dead in trespasses and sins.
Here, our dependence is not something to be shunned or denied but rather something to be celebrated and give thanks for. Here the hungry are made humble and enjoy the goodness of God’s love, justice, patience, companionship and labour.
Here, we are filled with good things so that we may go and feed others with those same good things.
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