I am rhythmically challenged. I can’t dance, rap, or do high fives. I miss the other person’s outstretched palm every time. I also don’t know what to do when someone approaches me to greet me. I never know if I am supposed to do a handshake, bro-hug, or curled-fingers hook. Last month a guy offered me a fist bump and I shook it by mistake. It felt awkward and horrible at the same time. That’s why I love watching people who’ve got rhythm. I love seeing an NCAA college basketball home crowd as they chant and throb in unison. Wedding guests on the dance floor doing the Bus Stop. Two friends performing their signature handshake—slap, slap, bump, slide. When people are in sync with each other, I see rhythm. I see harmony. I see joy.
In the same way that I am out of sync on the dance floor, we are out of step with God our Creator. God moves left, but we move right. God claps on the off beat, but we clap on the on beat. This is because we are ultimately on opposing sides (Eph. 2:12). In fact, the Bible describes us as “God’s enemies” (Rom. 5:10). We have stiff necks and ears that do not hear (Jer. 7:26; Ezek. 12:2). No wonder we can’t dance in time! We’re not merely rhythmically challenged—we refuse to dance in time with God.
But through his death and resurrection, Jesus puts us back in sync with God our Creator. His death and resurrection put an end to the hostility between us and God, resulting in the supreme blessing of peace (Eph. 2:13–19). God has “reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:18)! One aspect of reconciliation with God is that we are now put back in rhythm with our Creator. Paul goes on to explain that God has done this “in Christ” (v. 19). We are in Christ—thus, reconciled to God in Christ, we participate in perfect unison, rhythm, and harmony with God.
In most cultures the joy of reconciliation is expressed by eating together. Whenever my Chinese relatives eat together, it’s always at a round table—never a long rectangular table—because we’re eating together, face to face. The food is placed in the middle of the table and shared—we all eat the same dishes. And the host will pay for the whole meal—the bill is never split. It’s the opposite of Western individualism where everyone eats and pays for only what they order for themselves.
Interestingly, in the New Testament, often when someone is reconciled to God because of Jesus, the person celebrates this with a joyful meal. For example, immediately after leaving his tax office to follow Jesus, Levi throws a banquet for him (Luke 5:27–30). When the jailer in Philippi is saved, he is “filled with joy” and brings Paul and Silas back to his home for a meal (Acts 16:31–34). When Zacchaeus comes down from his tree, it’s to welcome Jesus into his home—with joy (Luke 19:5–7)! It’s the perfect expression of our reconciliation with God in and through Christ—a joyful meal with Jesus!
But even more interestingly, in the New Testament, after becoming reconciled to God, often the person tells as many of his or her family members, friends, and neighbors as possible about Jesus and invites them to the banquet with Jesus as well. It is a shared celebration. For example, Levi invites his tax-collector friends so that they, too, can eat with Jesus (Luke 5:29). Similarly, the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at the well invites her village to come and meet Jesus, and they in turn invite Jesus to stay with them to meet as many of their friends as possible (John 4:28–30, 39–42). Likewise, the jailer’s whole household eats with Paul and Silas and also hears and believes the word of the Lord (Acts 16:32–34).
The pattern in the New Testament seems to be this: Someone meets Jesus and experiences reconciliation with God. There is an outpouring of joy, which is often expressed through a meal with Jesus. But it’s usually not a small, one-on-one meal with him. It’s a banquet where the person opens his home and invites many friends to come along to meet and to eat with Jesus. The joy that comes from knowing Jesus is infectious. The gladness that comes from reconciliation with God has a snowballing effect.
This is what Paul describes when he says the love of Christ “compels us” (2 Cor. 5:14). Christ’s love for us is infectious. We want everyone to experience what we’ve discovered. Once we’ve tasted the joy of being in harmony, peace, and union with God our Creator, we want everyone else to be reconciled to God as well. Paul calls this the God-given “ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18). In much of the New Testament, we see this ministry of reconciliation expressed through people opening their homes, joyfully eating, and sharing the words of Jesus.
When I was a boy growing up in Adelaide, Australia, my Christian parents often invited our neighbors into our home for dinner. Many times, they also hosted lunches for international college students who had no immediate family or friends in Australia. These meals were always fun, with much food and celebration. Over these lunches and dinners, my parents would share the words of Jesus. Bit by bit, many neighbors and college students came to know the Lord. It was so much a part of our family’s routine that I thought it was just the normal thing to do! Today, in the busyness of our Western lives, I now see how it’s not such a normal thing to do.
But, on the other hand, looking at the stories of believers in the New Testament and contemplating the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:14–21, I can see how this actually is the normal and natural response of being reconciled with God. It’s in the very DNA of being a Christian to share our homes, meals, time, words, and lives with as many other people as possible. This instinctive desire to invite others to meet Jesus and “be reconciled to God” (v. 20) is the glad heartbeat of evangelism.
There is a bountiful joy in enjoying God’s reconciliation. Once we’ve tasted this joy, we want the whole world to taste it too. We open our lives, our mouths, our doors, our tables so that others can celebrate and have a meal with Jesus.
Sam Chan is an evangelist with City Bible Forum in Sydney, Australia. His book Evangelism in a Skeptical World received the 2019 Apologetics/Evangelism Book Award from Christianity Today. A medical doctor and theologian, he blogs at EspressoTheology.com.
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