I had the blessed opportunity to spend about 8 days in Taiwan last week, and it was so good to be back. Visiting good friends, eating the food I love, and enjoying the beautiful sights were just a few the pleasures I was able to indulge in.
Throughout my visit, I had the chance to catch up with numerous relationships, and often we did that over a meal (did I mention I love the food?). It was during some of those meals that I realized how much I enjoy the Taiwanese way of dining together. In America, whenever you eat out, the food primarily is prepared for your plate alone. Meaning, a plate is set before me, and the food that is flirting with me is for my mouth only – merely exemplifying the individualistic tendencies of our Western culture.
However, in Taiwan, most often all of the food is placed in the middle of the table, and then friends “dive in” together to share bites of tasty morsels all while ensuing in fun dialog. This collective approach gives everyone a chance to taste some of the same things, and creates even more opportunities to have quality fellowship.
Why does it matter? Well, while I’m not going to say that one culture trumps the other, I do appreciate the Taiwanese perspective for one primary reason: it focuses on the relationship! Instead of encouraging you to look down at your own plate while you seek to scarf your food down, the Taiwanese approach reminds you that the mealtime is more about the friendships than just the food – because isn’t that what it’s really all about anyway?
I’ve been reading the book ‘With’ by Skye Jethani, and I’ve appreciated so much the reminder that our God is a relational God. However, so often, instead of pursuing my “Friend,” I focus on the “food,” and thereby miss out on what the “meal” is all about. As Skye puts it, my heart cry also is that our God “would cease to be how we acquire our treasure, and he would become our treasure.” Are we enjoying life with Him simply because of who He is, or is it more about the delicious taste of life that we are hoping to get from Him?