A Longer Table

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.”

I love this quote. It inspires me to live a more generous life, rather than use what I have to insulate myself from other people and their problems.

The problem is that we have usually have a skewed idea of what we need. Many people plan on being generous and sharing with others if they ever hit the lottery. For many, that is the only way they will miraculously have everything they need.

In the book Money, Possessions and Eternity, Randy Alcorn gives stats on our wealth in relation to the rest of the world:

If you made $1,500 last year, you’re in the top 20% of the world’s income earners.

If you have sufficient food, decent clothes, live in a house or apartment, and have a reasonably reliable means of transportation, you are among the top 15% of the world’s wealthy.

The point is that we all have more than we need, so it’s time to build a longer table. It’s time to put our wants aside for other’s needs to be met. It’s not all about finances either. Making space at the table doesn’t just mean buying more food. It means making space for more people and different kinds of people to be valued in your life.

Table ministry 3













New York City Relief operates outreaches every week to people who are living on the streets and a key component of that is literally making a place for them at the table. Around the bus we use to serve food and drinks, we set up tables and chairs on the sidewalk. It can seem like a small accommodation, but a friend named Christoph who came to The Relief Bus for assistance, helped us see how important it is:











Christoph sharing his story inside of The Relief Bus

“Thank you for giving them tables and chairs to make them feel like people. That little bit of stuff you do to take away homelessness for the time that you spend with them, that touches hearts and changes lives. Thank you for not giving up on us and them when the rest of their families have. You show that God doesn’t give up, just by you being here.” See a powerful video of Christoph sharing his story of life transformation here.

One of our key concepts is that we are sharing communion, not charity. By breaking bread together on the sidewalks, we demonstrate that we are all on an equal level. These are great opportunities to ask people to share their thoughts, dreams and opinions. That’s what friends do

By making a place at our table, we make a place for people to stop, rest, be seen, heard and valued. The alternative is shuffling off to a dark corner by themselves to eat hastily. The alternative is isolation.

“When you have more than you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.”

I think the reason we sometimes build fences and cling to what we have is because we had to work so hard to get it. We earned our living and have a right to what is ours. The apostle Paul explains that actually one of the goals of earning through hard work is that we can then help others:

You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”- Acts 20:34,35

How can you build a longer table? Sign up to volunteer with New York City Relief or some other organization that befriends people in need. Use that opportunity to not just give one-sided charity, but to connect with others on a deep level. Risk letting others into your heart.

Building a longer table is what God did for us by sending Jesus. Ironically, he was a carpenter and could literally build tables. He made a place at the table for people that his own society rejected. Lest we forget, you and I were the outsiders who he welcomed to the table as well.

Jesus could have built a higher fence, but instead he tore the old fence down. The law was insufficient and left too many out in the cold who couldn’t live up to those standards. The cross became the table that made room for everyone to come and feast on God’s presence.

Here is the reality of building a longer table- when we make room for others, we make more room for Jesus as well. He says,

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”- Revelations 3:20

Jesus is knocking. Can you hear him? He wants to know if you have room at your table. Time to build a longer table.

Table ministry

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