I encountered an article the other day about a study (yet another one!) on what makes people eat too much, or eat in an unhealthy way. The conclusion of this study – at least, the point that the author of this article picked up on – was a little different, though. It suggested that eating with friends tends to pull us into worse eating habits.
Whether this observation is a reality or just a statistical artifact, I can definitely relate to it. In fact, I’ve said for some time that I’m a “social eater”. I know that I can eat healthy at home all week, and then go out with some friends or family and undo all of that effort with too much unhealthy food.
I’m not suggesting that we need to stop joining friends for meals (instead, see The Snack Ministry for suggestions on how to make mealtime count). However, by understanding this temptation, maybe we can manage our health a little bit better when we’re enjoying the company of others.
Once we know a little more about this aspect of group dynamics, though, could we use this for our own benefit? What if, rather than just eating food together, we were also interested in taking in the Word of God with our friends? If we got together with friends and studied what God has to say to us, would we end up getting even more spiritual “nutrition”?
The Bible certainly uses food as a metaphor (see John 6:35), as well as a means to explain spiritual concepts (see Hebrews 5:11-14),. Jesus delivered important messages at mealtime, too (see Luke 7:36-50, Luke 11:37-44, Luke 22:14-20, John 13:1-20). So, I don’t think that this comparison is too far off.
It’s pretty clear that being together with other Christians is a good idea. Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them when they met in His name:
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Matthew 18:19-20 NASB
And, being together and meeting in God’s name has resulted in remarkable blessings and miraculous signs:
And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:31 NASB
In fact, those from a city called Troas once listened to a message from an apostle named Paul until midnight!
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.
Acts 20:7 NASB
So, pick up some fresh fruit at the store, and invite your friends over for some Bible study. Together, you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet of God’s wisdom. (It doesn’t have to last until midnight.)