Aside from the obvious ones like raindrops on roses and warm woolen mittens, I have another favorite thing: a good old-fashioned church potluck. People from all different walks of life come together for food and fellowship, and everyone brings their best specialty dish for the meal. Perhaps a secret family recipe for spicy meatballs or cheesy potatoes. And don’t forget to save room on your plate for something from the dessert table . . . And there’s always room for Jello, unless it’s the kind with carrots suspended inside of it (no one has room for that). But I digress, as is easy to do when food is involved. My point is twofold: First, the members of the congregation bring their very best, not the leftovers from last Wednesday night’s dinner. And second, each member brings something different—imagine a potluck with nothing but chicken casserole. We crave variety, and we celebrate the uniqueness of each dish made lovingly and brought in by different members.
In some ways, a church potluck is a microcosm of the church itself. We all have different specialties, different gifts to offer. The Lord has blessed each of us with unique gifts that we have the joy of using to further his kingdom. We read about this in Romans 12:4-6:
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.
And in 1 Peter 4:10, we read:
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Obviously, God is speaking of things much loftier than hot dish. But in the same way that members heading to a potluck are excited to share their best chip dip, we should be excited to share our gifts for the good of God’s kingdom. Some of us can offer musical talents to contribute to the beautification of the church service itself. Some of us can lead Bible studies or teach Sunday school. Some of us are gifted in videography or know how to work a soundboard. Some of us are good listeners and encouragers and can use those gifts to help a struggling family. Some of us have been blessed monetarily and can contribute in that way. God wants our best because he’s the one who gave us our best. He also knows how much our giving can bless us. We are blessed by each other as parts of the body of Christ.
When we look at it this way, the church is less an organization and more like an organism—a living, breathing thing that we are called upon to care for and nurture. Just as the different parts of the body need to stay connected to one another to live, so our strength as a congregation is in being connected to each other and, ultimately, being connected to Christ as our head. I fear that we are losing that connection a bit these days. Using our potluck example, these tasty luncheons used to be much more frequent when I was younger. It seems we had a bit more time then to prepare our special recipes and more time to gather together as a church body. When people asked us how we were doing, we didn’t always answer, “We’re busy.” At the risk of playing the “good old days” card, I fear that the number of activities we as families commit to, the number of hours we work, and the number of apps on our smartphones has lessened our connection to each other as a church body. And thus, we are missing out on some of the blessings that God wants to give us as individuals and as a church body.
I pray that we as believers find and remain in that connection with each other and with our Savior so we can partake in those blessings here on earth, until God invites us to that glorious potluck in heaven (where there is no carrot Jello allowed). Make sure you save your fork.