It’s unfortunate that I have personally come to know tofu more closely recently than I ever have, or ever wanted to. Such is life. There are great benefits to introducing this food to your palate, if not because of its fantastic taste. In fact, that is a focus of this blog post today – the flavorlessness of tofu.
For those who have not experienced the delightful nothingness of tofu, let me suggest a possible connection with Yoda. That’s right – the ancient, petite alien from Star Wars whose head could resemble a wrinkled and hairy old pea. What he represents in the movies is a unique view of someone who is, perhaps, a very flavorless and bland being by nature, and yet a being who chose to lean away from that flavorlessness and stand apart. By nature of his decisions and wisdom when he had the opportunity to speak, he shifted the balance of the Star Wars universe.
Ultimately, that may be a question we can ask ourselves: will we be flavorless like tofu, taking on the flavor of the Pharisees who place burdens on those who need to experience Christ, or will we buck the system by infusing our surroundings with the hope of Christ?
Before we move forward, I want to express the fact that this blog is not a call to do extreme things in the name of God. There are those with tremendous cultural impact, but in most circumstances, those people were gifted by God to do so much in His name. For the majority of us, as believers, it is our calling to do small and consistent actions which testify to His goodness in a much different way.
With that in mind, and also the very important note that living the Christian life is not to earn salvation, but only to show gratitude to the God who died to save our souls, how do the Scriptures present the argument for the anti-tofu life?
In the words of Jesus Christ, we see in Matthew 5:13-16 that He couples the importance of salt (flavor, conveniently enough) and light for the presentation of the Gospel. He says, 13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by people. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Your light must shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Have I mentioned that this passage does not differentiate between the saved (salty) and unsaved (unsalty)? Instead, it speaks of the saved who use their good works to make God look good in the world as compared with the saved who do not use their good works to glorify God in this way. This passage shows that it’s possible to have received God’s justification and have eternal life to look forward to one day, and yet they have lost the usefulness of their faith here on this earth. It’s possible for us to put our light under a basket, withholding God’s light, and yet it is His will that we shine brightly for the world to see, not by convincing them that they are unredeemable, but by convincing them they are redeemable!
What do salt and light represent to Christ? The salt represents the appeal. While this is not the “seeker sensitive” mentality of past decades, there is undeniably a message in the Gospels and the whole of the Scriptures that those without Chris should be presented the goodness and appeal of God. In modern times, this idea has lost traction in certain circles of Christianity, primarily as folks choose to remove themselves from the world to protect what’s theirs, but this idea of appeal and presenting God’s goodness was what caused Christians throughout the centuries to step into dangerous and hostile circumstances to love those who are sick, persecuted, and even those who consider Christians to be their enemies. This saltiness is incredibly valuable as the Holy Spirit works through it in our communities.
The light is, of course, God’s revelation of Himself. Not only should we present His goodness through good works, but it should be coupled with the explicit messaging of the Gospel of Christ. This good news states that all humanity, including we, the messengers, fall short of His glory, but He entered our world to bring salvation and healing, reconciliation and redemption. No one is too far lost to receive this hope and that is the illumination we’re meant to bring to the world.
When we choose to live out this salt and light, guess what begins to occur? We look less like our fleshly selves and more like Christ, the selfless and perfect Savior who died even for His enemies. In other words, Romans 12:2 tells us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” The meaning of this verse is often presented to puff ourselves up, showing that we do not steep to the sinful ways of those around us. The sad fact though, is that , while we avoid more visible sins of alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual sins, and the like, we may must more easily fall head over heels into pride, fear, or anger. These things were not attributes of Christ, and therefore, we seek for the Holy Spirit to refine us from those sins as well. We don’t just long to be molded to the Fruit of the Spirit, but we also long to be molded away from the qualities which oppose the Fruit of the Spirit.
This is how we seek to avoid being Christian tofu and lean into being like Christian Yoda. It’s not because of the magnitude of Yoda’s influence that he is mentioned. It’s because he chose to do whatever he could in the circumstances before him to impact for the better. We don’t want to take on the “flavor” of those around us. We want to be representatives of God. So be like Yoda who took every opportunity, not to stoop to bad attitudes and bitterness, but who stood steady and firm, cool-headed in adversity and set on the hope that the light side would overcome the dark. Therefore we don’t crumble under anxiousness, fear, and anger. We stand, throw off the bushel which silences God’s goodness, and shine a light to all who might see and notice the perfection of our Father.
Love you all,
Young Adult Minister – Evan McNeff