Recently my family had the joy of meeting with brethren of the Newland Street church of Christ in Garden Grove, CA, for their mid week meal and Bible study.
For the meal we chose to sit at a table with a family of foriegn descent – Taiwanese. Conversation began with introductions of our families. Their family consisted of a brother and sister in their forties, born in the US and their dad and mom from Taiwan, all living together. The son Richard had been out of work for a year having gotten laid off from Mattel. This family were members of a community church, but visited Newland Street for their midweek meal and Bible study.
The meal we were eating together consisted of meatball subs, brocclie, coleslaw, potato salad and some sort of red drink(?) or tea. Not exactly what the Food Network would call “soul food.”
DEFINITION: Soul food is basic, down-home cooking with its roots in the rural South. The principle staples of soul food cooking are beans, greens, cornmeal (used in cornbread, hush puppies, johnnycakes, and as a coating for fried fish), and pork.
Umm! Might be time for some soul food…
…Where was I, oh yes. Having learned about Richard’s family, work situation and association with the Newland congregation I turned the conversation to personal faith asking Richard if he believed in God and considered himself saved. After confirming that he was, I asked how it came about. His description that followed included faith in Jesus as the sinless Son of God who shed his blood for the forgiveness of the world’s sins, repentance of sins and confession of Jesus. Baptism was not mentioned, so I asked if he was baptised, how and for what reason. He suggested that baptism was something to be done after being saved but not as part of being saved and that it could be administered any way one desired. I responded by asking if I could show him something the apostle Peter wrote about baptism from his Bible which was sitting on the table. He agreed to allow me, so I turned us to 1 Peter 3:21 which reads,
“Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”</(emphasis added).
We spoke about the context of Peter a bit and then included another five or six corresponding passages of scripture, which spoke of forgiveness of sins in baptism, baptism being how we call on the name of Jesus to be saved and baptism being the point in time we become children of God. We also briefly discussed how the Greek meaning of the word baptism only allows for full submersion. Our conversation may have been 30 minutes or so, at the end of which I encouraged Richard to continue studying the topic and to pursue discussion of it with one of the elders he knew at Newland. At this point Richard was reflective, but not ready to make a decision.
We left our discussion of salvation at this point and changed rooms to assemble for group Bible study.
Later I spoke with the Newland elder Richard knew best, describing our interchange. The elder, whose name was also Richard, said he and another elder had recently been discussing inviting this family into personal study! How cool is that! “…I planted, Apollos watered…” 1 Cor. 3:6
What started out as a simple meal and precursure to Bible study be came a spiritual interchange about salvation in Christ – “Soul Food” which may, one day, result in new Christians!
Do you ever sit down at meal with others? What kind of food do you partake in? I encourage you to train your palate to enjoy “soul food”.
Now it does not take a thirty minute study of the scriptures at a meal to bless someone’s relationship with the Lord. A prayer of thanks for the food and conversation that honors God and builds up those dinning can do the same. But if you can, intentional discussion about obedience to the gospel and walking by faith can be very encouraging and impactful towards one another’s salvation.
“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” Jhn. 6:27