Jesus was Samaria sitting by a well when a woman came to draw water. They talk about things: living water, her bad track record with men, the proper place to worship, and the Messiah. In fact, she is the first person Jesus directly says, “I am the Messiah.” The woman runs back to her village to tell the people about Jesus. While she is gone, the disciples tell Jesus to eat. The reason they left was to go buy food. But Jesus says that he has already eaten: that doing the will the one who sent him is his food and drink (see John 4). Here is a reflection that Bob Benson wrote on this passage:
The disciples spread the lunch and told Jesus it was time to eat. But He tells them He has already eaten. They looked around for a McDonald’s bag or some evidence of some lunch. Noth that I think He would throw trash on the ground.
“May be somebody else brought Him some foood,” they wondered.
“And He explained, “I had lunch with my Father.”
We call it work. He said it was meat and drink to Him.
We called it [enter church program of your choice], but He would have called it lunch. We sometimes called it [program], but He calls it dinner. We may call it Soul-winning, but He says it is fried chicken and green beans and sliced tomatoes and a tall glass of iced tea. Jesus came to do the work of the Father and He liked it as well as He did eating (Bob Benson, In Quest of the Shared Life).
We often think of ministry as work. Probably because we make it that way. As I read this I thought of where a lot of Jesus’ ministry took place: actually eating. Eating in someone’s house: Levi, Simon, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Jesus taught about God and God’s love much more often eating at someone’s house than at the synagogue. He didn’t teach seminars on How to Be the Best Jew in a World Going to Hell; he ate at people’s houses and told them about God, God’s love, and what God wanted them to do: love each other.
What if more of our ministry was like this? A natural part of our life than something else we tack onto our endless to-do list. Now doing God’s work is work. Anyone in ministry knows this. But does it have to be so much work? Do we really have to meet at the church for everything? What if we encouraged our people to invite their neighbors who don’t know God over for dinner? What if we encouraged our people to have friends with people who didn’t know God to begin with? Evangelicalism tends to create its own little culture, a bubble, where everyone we know goes to church with us or is another evangelical. “Evangelism” might now be such hard work or such a scary thing if we would build relationships with people who don’t know God, and invite them over to eat. Or say yes when they invite us over for a barbeque.
May be if we took this attitude more of our ministry would be like Jesus’ ministry: “fried chicken and green beans and sliced tomatoes and a tall glass of iced tea.”