Earlier today, I ran to Publix to buy the final parts of our Christ-like Servants Pillar Meal. We gather every second Tuesday with the ministries of that Pillar to encourage one another, learn, pray and fellowship. I ran in quickly before heading into the office, with the purpose of being in and out but the Holy Spirit had other plans. I quickly noticed a homeless woman walking through the bakery section admiring all of the fresh food and talking to herself about how delicious the items looked. She and I started talking near the Publix soups and when she said, she loves soup, but can’t afford any today, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “You feed her.”
I asked her if I could buy her a cup of soup and at first, she said yes, but then she thought about how she didn’t really have a microwave to warm it up in so what she really wanted was a sub. And so I walked with her over the sub-station and she ordered a turkey sub with two kinds of cheese and all the fixings. But she didn’t want any sauce, she said, because as she held up five packets of tartar sauce, she was going to use tartar sauce instead.
Now, I am not a food snob and I am really no expert on sauce combos, but I can’t say I have ever used tartar sauce on something not fish. Maybe I have a lot to learn and maybe I have been living under a rock, but my new friend says it is all the rage.
And it got me thinking about being the church. As we heard on Sunday, the Way of Jesus is to be vitality in a world that is losing its liveliness and strength. When we, as a group, are called to be light and salt, it connects us back to our calling to represent God on earth and to be the representatives of another world, another kingdom where Christ is seated upon the throne. Jesus is very clear in Matthew 5 that we are salt and we are light, but if Jesus was there in the Publix sub line with me this morning, I believe Jesus would also agree with my new friend that we are tartar sauce too.
Maybe the church has always been in the “fish”ing business, but now we are called outward and beyond into the sub-business. Maybe being salt and light looks different today in this post-pandemic world and the church is called to be tartar sauce as well. Maybe we need to try things we have never tried before for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
Now, I’m not planning on having a turkey sub with tartar sauce anytime soon, but I will look at my approaches differently. I will think with more caution about doing the same things I have always done while expecting different results. I will try new things in how I talk to the people I interact with, in how I shine light in broken circumstances and in how I attempt to bring salt into bland and flavorless situations. But I won’t close my eyes to new ways of being the church either. Quite frankly it is time to diversify our “sauce collection” to reach more people, in more places, in different spaces than we have been used to in the past. And it means we will be uncomfortable. It means that we might have to try tartar sauce on our turkey sub once in a while because that is what incarnational ministry is all about. And we may love it, and we may say, “No, thank you,” but are you willing to give it a try? Imagine what God’s Kingdom will look like in five years, ten years, or the next generation because we tried something new!