the weblog of Alan Knox

Please take anything from the refrigerator

Posted by on Jun 7, 2011 in blog links, community, fellowship | 16 comments

Please take anything from the refrigerator

James at “Deliver Detroit” wrote a very good post called “Are other people allowed in your refrigerator?

I had never thought about it before, but the refrigerator is a special and private place withing a home. There is something special about being offered the use of the refrigerator.

When people stay at our home, we often say something like, “You’re welcome to anything that’s in the refrigerator.” (The joke’s on them, because the fridge is often empty.)

James says this about the refrigerator in his home when he was growing up:

Having many friends from the neighborhood over frequently, the house was common ground to most who passed through. But, the fridge was not to be opened by those who did not reside in the house. Our home operated on a budget and a single income, sometimes even on state or federal assistance, making the contents of our fridge very valuable indeed. The refrigerator door was not to be opened by those who were not residents of the home, and those who did would be quickly reminded not to enter the forbidden fridge zone.

He ends his post with this:

For me, true Christian Fellowship can be seen in the privilege of access to your brothers and sisters refrigerators. Even more so, fellowship is established mutually. A refrigerator full of leftovers is not a blight on your reputation when you truly desire to have others see you as you are. Commonality exists in the content of our relationships, and is truly fostered in Christ-like conformity when we allow our guards to go down and the doors of our refrigerators to swing open. Even though it is easier to just have someone serve you from their refrigerator themselves, we miss out on much of the value had in earning the trust and love in genuine relationship with others. When all things are in common, the relationship becomes more important than the possession, and that last piece of cheesecake truly belongs to any who desires it. My fridge is your fridge.

What do you think? Is the refrigerator “sacred space” in most homes? Do you share the contents of your refrigerator?


16 Comments

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  1. 6-7-2011

    We tell both Christians and non-Christian neighbors and friends they can help themselves to the fridge, because it tells them they are trusted and accepted. We have even offered our non-Christian neighbors the use of our apartment washer and dryer when we are not home. Opening our homes to others is one of the most meaningful things we can employ in loving them.

  2. 6-7-2011

    Art,

    Wonderful! And, I think a great clue that you’ve been accepted is when your neighbors accept your offers.

    -Alan

  3. 6-7-2011

    But the churchers might see my beer and stumble or judge me, or drink it!

  4. 6-7-2011

    Refrigerator rights are something I think my pastor talked about in the past. I think for many people it is a sacred space, for whatever reason. Who you give (or don’t give) those rights to says a lot.

    Along the same lines, we have friends that don’t knock. If the door is unlocked they are expected to just some in. We’re family and our home really is their home.

  5. 6-7-2011

    Alan,

    You obviously do the same. Yes, it is interesting that some people aren’t comfortable enough with us to accept fridge or house privileges at first. Until they do, we know we haven’t really bridged a connection yet.

    Hutch,

    Thats why they make garages, to keep a spare fridge with the good stuff in it

  6. 6-7-2011

    I was just kidding I’ll share.

  7. 6-7-2011

    Alan,

    On the other hand:

    An elderly couple who were recipients of an aged pension, and members of the congregation, amongst which I was pastor,had to change the time when thy ate.

    They had welcomed brethren from another congregation into their home at meal time, only to find, after a few weeks, that they were overwhelmed by people (all with good jobs) abusing their love and hospitality. Not once was anything contributed from the “visitors” who “coincidentally” turned up at their mid-day meal time, expecting to be served.

    The “visitors” would turn their noses up, at times, to what was offered, and go looking for something more to their taste.

    The aged pension is well below the minimum wage in this country, and the couple soon found they were not able to afford the “visitors”.

    The couple began shutting their house at meal times, pulling down the blinds, and sitting quietly in their darkened home until there were no more knocks at the door.

    Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’ve seen far too much of the behavior I’ve described amongst “church” people. My wife and I have also experienced similar, even to the extent of a “clergyman” stealing my books.

    It is my strong belief that the courtesy of asking and being given permission goes a long way to establishing good family relationships between followers of Christ who truly consider one another, and love one another.

    Benevolence towards those in need is another matter altogether.

  8. 6-7-2011

    Hutch and Scott,

    If you guys lived closer, I’d raid your refrigerators.

    Art,

    You do live close enough…

    Aussie John,

    What a terrible group of “friends”…

    -Alan

  9. 6-7-2011

    We have an open ‘refrigerator’ door policy at the house. Many ‘christian’ beleivers have had a difficult time with this freedom. Can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to tell them “it’s OK” or “don’t you know where the such and such is yet?” The offer of freedom to rifle through the fridge, drawers, closets, etc. has revealed just how fragile we can still be, even in Christ. Thankful His lovingkindness and tenderness perfectly restores His freedom in our souls. Here’s to bigger refrigerators!

  10. 6-7-2011

    John,

    Sounds like you’re treating other Christians like family. How novel. :)

    -Alan

  11. 6-7-2011

    Alan,

    Did I detect a little bit of condescension? Not “friends”, but professed brethren!

    There is a thin line between licence and freedom.

  12. 6-7-2011

    Haha…what great convos by all. I suppose the analogy breaks down at some points. But what I was aiming at was the community of believers in the New Testament Church. The church of today seems not only to have a closed fridge policy, but a closed door/shades, and house policy.

    Aussie, your aged-couple sounds like a good case study example of the church in Corinth. Every man esteeming himself above everyone else will empty the fridge in a hurry, but genuine brethren, will look to fill that empty fridge with groceries.

  13. 6-7-2011

    Aussie John,

    The type of community and fellowship that James describes has to be 2-way, at least in respect and concern for one another.

    James,

    I liked your analogy.

    -Alan

  14. 6-8-2011

    Alan,

    Now your talking!

  15. 6-10-2011

    This topic touches a whole array of ways we let people into our lives or keep them at bay to maintain our own private kingdom.

    Some time ago I was thinking about how discipleship and missional living overlap. The idea of private spaces played a part in identifying where we were. I think best with pictures, so I drew up a two axis chart that intersects in the middle making four quadrants. One axis outlined an “acuiring vs serving” spectrum. The other was a “relational vs removed” spectrum.

    On the relational – removed scale, the “removed” side had the following:

    This side of the “being” scale represents Christians who physically and emotionally remove themselves from others. This loss of intimacy at the human level reflects a corresponding loss of intimacy with God.

    The markers were:

    Spare Time – We are willing to extend to others our spare time, helping them only if it is convenient and fits easily into our schedule.

    Exterior Space – We are willing to meet with people, but reserve this mostly for neutral, public spaces. We maintain private spaces where few are ever invited to join us.

    No Space – At the extreme, we will not let anyone—or not let certain types of people—into most of our spaces, considering them private and off limits.

    No Time – At the extreme, we have no time—or narrowly limited windows of time—to share with others.

    Along the relational side:

    This side of the “being” scale represents Christians who invite people into their lives physically and emotionally, learning to both give and receive.

    The markers were:

    Interruptible – Our plans lose control over our schedules, and we learn more and more to turn aside to see and meet the needs of others at inconvenient times and places.

    Acceptance (w/o requiring change) – We have fewer and fewer conditions to our acceptance of others, and that acceptance increasingly brings them to the inside of our lives, under our skin, into our hearts and homes.

    Most Times – We may still have times that are set aside, but these are limited to the necessities of intimacy with God and family and occasional physical needs for rest and renewal. Generally, others have access to us anytime.

    Most Spaces – We may still have a few private places, but generally, our friends (both believers and unbelievers) have access to anything and anywhere.

    The chart is at:
    http://tinyurl.com/y397uja

  16. 6-10-2011

    Art,

    I like your scales and charts! Thanks again for a great comment.

    -Alan