A Place at the Table: Chapter 1 – From Consuming to Sharing

In the first chapter of A Place at the Table, Chris Seay challenges us to consider the plight of the poor around the world. In a country like America, where an abundance of food choices are made readily available and affordable, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that many people around the world are lacking adequate nourishment. It is important that we turn our attention toward their  suffering during this time of fasting and repentance.

If you haven’t yet purchased the book, you can read the first chapter here.

Here are some questions to get our conversation started.

1. What thoughts came to mind as you were reading through the various definitions of the word “consume?” Did you notice yourself feeling a sense of guilt? Did you find yourself judging others?

2. Chris shared a few statistics about the living conditions of the world’s poor. Chances are you have heard similar statistics in the past, but perhaps this was the first time you have encountered them. How did you feel as you read through them? Did it feel as if these problems were beyond your ability to help? Did you feel a sense of personal responsibility for their conditions?

3. How did you feel when reading about the obesity epidemic in America as compared to the lack of food in the developing world? Is the solution as simple as sharing what we have, or are there other factors contributing to the imbalance?


8 thoughts on “A Place at the Table: Chapter 1 – From Consuming to Sharing

  1. For the sake of getting things started, I want to address one of my questions in #1.

    As I was reading through the list of terms that defined “consumption” I did find myself having a judgmental attitude toward others. It was much easier for me to project my guilty feelings on others, or “society” or “America,” than it was to own them for myself.

    One of my prayers for the next 47+ days is that God would help me to become less self-righteous when it comes to stuff like this. And that I would recognize my sinfulness in casting blame on others (like Adam), and by feeling superior to others in times when I do “get it right.”

  2. As I read the definitions of consume, I noticed how negative they sounded using words like “destroy” or “waste”. The one that stood out the most was “engross.” How often do food or other things in our lives “engross” us without us even noticing it… we worry about what we wear and what others may think about it… or maybe even what we’re eating. Our minds never stop of the things that “need” to get done surround our STUFF in life… cleaning, preparing, repairing, maintaining things we may or may not really need. It engrosses us and we don’t realize it. I pray that over the next 47+ days I can instead be ENGROSSED in Jesus… that being “in Him” would become a habit that will push away being engrossed in these other things. That I would seek the approval of Him alone and no one else. Through this experience I want to be able to truly say and mean that poverty is “not just A problem…” but MY problem.

    1. I just got back from taking my dog for a walk. While I was out I was listening to a sermon by Greg Boyd, the pastor of Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN. It was preached on February 5th and is titled Continuing the Work of Christ.

      The whole time I was listening to it I was thinking about what you said about being “engrossed” in Jesus. It really seemed to fit well with his message about the “one flesh” relationship we share with Jesus. He even mentioned those who have decided to live with less in solidarity with the poor. I highly recommend giving it a listen if you get the chance.

    2. 24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

      28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. – Colossians 1:24-29

  3. At my church, we are finishing a series on Exodus as we head into Lent. My friend Erin and I came across Chris’ book and ordered a copy. As we looked through it in anticipation of presenting it in our Lenten planning meeting as our devotional for the season, we saw many references to Exodus. Our finding this book was obviously no coincidence. As I read about the idea of consumption, I thought of the manna that was hoarded. People were told that there would be enough for everyone. There was no need to collect extra. There would be more the next day. The hoarded manna went bad before it could be eaten. They knew God would provide…they had plenty of evidence…yet they did not trust.

    I think back to a day when a young man might be given his grandfather’s pocket watch. It was to cherished for years to come for what it represented. What gift might we cherish today? No one needs an old watch. They can check the time on their phone or tablet. The “stuff” we need so badly, is our hoarded manna. It doesn’t hold our attention for long. It “spoils” for us as we hear about the next edition or we are “guided” in a new direction altogether by marketing gurus. No acquisition is enough. We need the newest thing. We consume, leaving little in our wake, and not once did we take a moment to stand in the middle of all the piles of our stuff and fall to our knees in gratitude. We didn’t stop to think about the village in Kenya or the hurricane victim along the Gulf Coast. We just thought of ourselves. I’m looking to change that in myself.

  4. (This is a great idea, Shane. Looking forward to walking this path with you guys!)

    1. When I was reading the definitions of consume, I kept thinking about Elijah and the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18) and how God’s fire consumed the offering and and the altar and the dust and the water. It was stunning and powerful and everyone knew from it that the Lord was God. It makes me sad to place my habits in that context. With everything I consume, who is glorified? What message are people around me getting about what is important?

    2. I definitely get overwhelmed with statistics about poverty. It feels like my “help” is bailing a boat with a thimble in the middle of a downpour. But I’m also really encouraged by the stories I hear and see of what God is doing. Who needs a thimble when I have a God who can calm storms?

    3. I think the obesity epidemic is more than just failure to share. It seems to me that lots of people I know (myself included, at times) eat unhealthily not *just* due to excess, but due to convenience. And I think obesity is partly due to diet and partly due to a sedentary lifestyle, which can also be a spiritual issue.

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