This is the story of a special conference table in Kenya. A table that was built with much more care and intention than most tables. It serves as a symbol of the Body of Christ and carrying out God’s mission across the world.
The conference table was originally built for use at the WorldView Institute in Portland, Oregon. This institute was founded by Dr. and Mrs. Smith for preparing international students in a culture-neutral environment to carry the Gospel message back to their nations.
When the Smiths were invited to return to Daystar University, another institution they founded, the leadership of the WorldView Institute gladly gave the table to them for use at their new home in Kenya.
The Creation of the Table
As God created many cultures to inhabit His world, so He has created many cultures (we call them species) of trees. Represented in the table are only eight of the known species of over 1500 woods God has created. The wood represented in this table come from several but not all continents.
There are 23 visible pieces of wood that make the table’s top and more for the apron and legs. Each piece of wood comes from a different species, making each piece of wood unique in its own way, just as each of us are unique.
Just as humans are not perfect, there are imperfections in each piece of wood, some more than others. This table was designed to allow for such imperfections to show. The builder of this table is likewise not perfect and his errors are seen at least to his eyes and hands.
Unity has a special meaning with regards to this table. Just as the body of Christ has different parts with different spiritual gifts, so this table has different components that unite to form the whole. For example, the legs and the apron play a different role than the top. There are also functional components that are not seen. Over one hundred tenons are used to join the pieces of the table together. Although unseen, these tenons play a valuable role in keeping the table strong and functional.
Similar to the role of the Spirit, there is a very strong glue to bind every piece together. The last component, the finish, is oil that has been liberally applied and rubbed in both to enhance the natural beauty of the woods and to protect the table from wear. Similar to our faith, the oil must be exercised for the real beauty to show.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2