Communities are knit together in part because they eat together. The word companion comes from the Latin word for bread. This eating together consists regular meals together, sacramental meals together, and feeding on the declared Word together. In all three ways, we must not only eat together but must also “be fed” together.
We have probably all heard the complaint from Christians who said they weren’t “being fed” any more. We may have gone through that ourselves. But there are two basic ways this might happen. One might occur when a gospel-preaching church slides into unfaithfulness. Where Christ was once proclaimed, the pulpit is now filled with moralism and self-helpery. The saints are not being fed because of dereliction on the part of the cooks. The saints are not being fed because someone responsible to serve food stopped serving food.
But there is also another cause, just as common, and far less recognized. This is not caused by dereliction by the cooks, but rather because the Christian in question went on a hunger strike. For whatever reason, some grievance has affected his appetite, and he has become mighty particular about his food. There is an abundance of food—and a bad attitude on the part of someone who will not pick up a fork.
The apostle Paul addressed just this problem with the Corinthians using a different image. “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also” (2 Cor. 6:11–13, ESV). They could not receive abundance from Paul because their hearts were narrow toward him. But the abundance was there. Paul did not reciprocate—his heart was wide open toward them. They were not constricted by Paul; they were constricted in their own affections. Their problem was entirely internal, and they projected that problem onto Paul as though it was his problem.
Paul addressed this very simply. He spoke to those who were doing this as though they were children. Open your hearts, he said. Widen your hearts. To shift the image again, open wide. Pick up your fork.