The Apostles, Peter and Paul, had a famous argument regarding with whom you could sit down for dinner (Gal 2:11-14). The Christian Gospel says that all are equally accepted by God through faith in Christ, regardless of who they are, or what their ethnic and cultural (and subcultural) identity may be. However, on this occasion Peter would only eat with the Jews (those of his own ethnic and cultural origin), but not with the Gentile non-Jews.
In ancient times eating with people was not the slight matter that it often is to us today. Then, it meant public acceptance, intimate friendship, and meaningful sharing in each other’s lives. This would necessarily involve not only appreciating the other’s culture, but also having some of it “rub off” on us (while holding absolutely to the Word of God). This understanding is referred to as having “table fellowship” with someone.
Therefore, to not eat with a particular individual or group meant that you didn’t accept them and wouldn’t have close friendship with them. In the context of Christian faith, this also implies that people are not accepted by God. (Peter still actually believed the truth of the Gospel, but on this occasion had fallen into hypocritical behaviour.)
In Holy Communion, God is having “table fellowship” with us!… – think about that!…. The Son of God even (literally) took on something of our human culture when He became a first-century Middle Eastern. This was part of God’s full acceptance of us through the grace of Christ, regardless of our cultural identity.
Sometimes we push ourselves to politely tolerate those who are different from us, ethnically, culturally and sub-culturally, even within Christian worship, but do we have “table fellowship” with them!…. If we know, and have received, the Gospel of the grace of Christ, we may, and we must!
Bon appétit, Jonathan.