In preparation for our first weekend service I did not post on Friday. So today I am going to post, and try to post tomorrow. I briefly wanted to answer the question, “Why do you use the word 'feasting' in your mission statement?”
One reader felt the statement sounded strange. To answer that objection and any others, I wanted to give a brief defense. Below I give 3 reasons for what we have written.
1) The language reflects scripture: The Bible begins with God’s people enjoying food in God’s presence (Genesis 2) and ends with God’s people enjoying food at God’s banquet (Revelation 19). Even the Biblical narrative flow of creation, fall, election of Israel, Christ, and consumation all indicate at different times God’s desire to have His people eat with Him. God created a garden for the people he made and they literally only had one dietary restriction: “don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. After the fall of man, God called Abraham out to be a father to a people as numerous as the stars in the sky. His promise to Abraham was to take them to a land flowing with milk and honey. After Moses came out of Egypt into the wilderness with the Israelites, God chose to give them just enough food to eat on for each day (manna). God was teaching the Israelites to lean on His loving provision. In Isaiah 55, we see God inviting His people to partake of the feast He has to offer, a feast with the finest of food.
I will only mention a few instances in Jesus’ ministry where this theme of eating with God continues-- though I could list many more! At one point Jesus feeds five thousand people, making a feast out of some kid’s bagged lunch. Jesus also constantly eats with sinners. At Jesus’ temptation, Jesus compares the word of God to bread, showcasing how God intends to sustain us through His good word. Right before His crucifixion, Jesus enjoyed a last meal with His disciples, commanding them to eat this meal consistently to remember his sacrifice on their behalf. This meal is the Lord’s Supper. When we do it, we remember Christ and enjoy God’s love. As mentioned before, the picture in Revelation of our heavenly celebration is a feast where the Lamb of God, Jesus is worshipped at the center of the banquet. The Bible talks a lot about eating, and even eating with God. It is a picture of joyful fellowship with our God and maker. From the beginning to the end of scripture we see God’s love made plain in the instances of His choosing to invite His people to feast. To feast with God now is to feast on the love God has given us in Christ.
2) The language is basic: Everyone eats. Some days we eat well, other days not so much. We all know the difference between an every day meal and a meal that is special or blessed, like a feast. We want to appeal to this basic human understanding to highlight the uniqueness of God’s love.
God’s love is supremely good, so we should truly enjoy it, we should feast upon God’s love for us in Christ Jesus. In other words, I could have said in our mission statement, “Inviting Chicago to delight in God’s love.” However, we chose to use a word that people could associate with a pleasant experience so as to make delight more tangible. We want people to really get that God’s love isn’t something meaningless or inconsequential. Rather, rejecting God’s love is like rejecting a feast to enjoy scraps from a garbage can.
3) The language reflects delight: To follow-up on point #2, I want to highlight here how John Piper, and thus Jonathan Edwards have influenced my thinking. Since I became a Christ-follower at 7, I have understood following Christ to be something exciting, something wonderful, something marked with incomparable joy. It wasn’t until I read Desiring God by John Piper in the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college that I felt I had learn to express God's expectation of delight in the life of a Christian. As Piper might emphasize, “The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” The highlighted part of the sentence represents the centrality of joy in obedience to God. God takes very seriously our enjoyment of Him. All of our obedience should flow from joyful love of God. So I wanted to make clear that what we are inviting Chicago to do is to Glorify God and follow Jesus—and to truly do this we must learn to be completely satisfied in God's love.
Hopefully this clarifies why we chose the word feasting and this post will be a good place to direct anyone who wants the idea of feasting on God's love fleshed out. Within the next few weeks I will also write a post on why we place such an emphasis on the word “love”.