Thursday, August 23, 2007

Would Jesus Play Poker?

We picked up the kids at the airport last night, drove home and heard their stories about the adventures they enjoyed while in California with my parents. It wasn't long though until we jumped right into a game of poker together. While the kids were away I purchased a folding table to set up for game nights with family or guests. It's designed as a poker table, with green felt and cup folders, but it can serve as a game table for any of the collection of board games we have. Such is our commitment to fun in the house.

As we all sat around the table last night, placing bets, calling bluffs and hearing more vacation stories it occurred to me the importance of what we were doing. Such a (money-less) game that called us around the table actually performs much more than all the chips can add up to. It's another way (albeit non-culinary) to bring people, who should be connecting in a healthy relational way, around that most magical of all household furniture: the table. The table seems to have been infused with mystical abilities to facilitate relating among those who ought to be drawing close anyway.

Consider that the table was the centerpiece of worship furniture for the Christian Church up to the Enlightenment (when it was replaced by the pulpit as western thought reasoned that people needed persuasion more than they needed fellowship). Think of the continued power of the table in the beer halls of Germany, the pubs of the UK, the homes of Asia and the coffeehouses of the U.S. Even the health of the nuclear family is often evidenced through how they use the table in their home to foster familial love. The table's power has transcended time, culture, language and social status. One loses count, when perusing the Gospels, of all the times people enjoy significant moments with Jesus Christ around a table. Whether having him as a guest for dinner, for a wedding or sharing Passover with him, Jesus used the table as a kingdom-building tool.

When I reflect on the significance of the evening I had in late July with the men of Cedar Ridge Bible Church (Royse City, TX) during an evening of poker, the power of the table appears demonstrated anew. We had such a fun time, sharing life narratives, joking about each others' quirks and developing deeper friendships. Male relatability needs help in our present culture since ours is not one in which community hunts, barn raisings or harvests are the norm. Therefore, God in his grace causes games to be invented that call people around the table, to experience its relational magnetism. Now I know that some would object to poker because of its use in gambling, which some can grow into a destructive vice. Nevertheless, the power of the table cannot be ignored.

In light of all of this, one can imagine Jesus around such a table, using all of its potential to build relationships for the glory of God and the advancement of the kingdom. I can easily picture Jesus engaging such fun, betting early and often to keep things exciting. I might think twice, though, about staring down the Son of God and wouldn't even try to bluff him into folding out.


CMWoodall said...

with a table, you're facing one another, not excluding one another from fellowship. However, it probably wasn't the enlightenment that gave us your table-less worship. That happened much earlier.
Church worship came from synagogue and Temple worship, both *public* worship.
But I still like your connection to the family. We worship/ed in homes until we gained civil sanction. That can and should still happen, but not forever or in isolation from public announcement of WHO the real King of the universe really is.
Also don't just consider Jesus as an itinerant, he taught in the synagogues and in the Temple daily. It may be that he did not stop teaching there, but also in every social context where ... those who had ears could hear.
You're on to something. It might behoove us to act as his body and take up the cultural mandate to reach'em where they are.

Monk321 said...

Certainly, what you saw is true. However, I emphasize the table becasue of how it escapes emphasis in popular evangelicalism. Certainly a balance is necessary, but the imbalanced is what inspired my blog entry.