As I flew on a very long flight from Chicago to Addis Ababa on Friday, I was unable to sleep and therefore got a lot of reading and writing done. One quote that I read jumped out at me: Christians tend to live their lives as oranges, not peaches. Since there are more mangos in Africa than peaches, I switched it: As a Christian, I need to live life as a mango, not an orange.
The quote makes sense. Oranges are segmented. They are self-contained. They have a rather strong “flesh” that protects the juice from inside each segment. Like oranges, we too compartmentalize our lives into segments. We create layers between them, often unintentionally, that keeps things neatly separate. From the outside, it looks like one cohesive unit. It’s only upon peeling the orange, that you see the divisions.
Eating an orange is easy. The peel and rind come off relatively neatly with just your fingers. The segments keep your hands from getting sticky orange juice on them.
Mangos, on the other hand, are different. You need a knife to take off the peel. The inside pulp of a mango has no divisions. In fact, the pulp and pit are so connected that it is difficult to separate them. We had five mango trees in our yard in Liberia, and I don’t remember anyone eating a mango neatly. Mango juice dripped all over faces, hands and clothes.
Christians (and all humanity in normal everyday life) segment our lives. These segments keep things neat and clean in their isolated boxes. Some of the segments that we have created in our lives are those that we believe are important to God. Some segments we do not believe are important to God.
The segments we believe are important include church services and activities, social action activities, evangelistic activities. The segments we do not believe are important are work, rest, leisure, sport and the arts.
We believe that the segments are real and even Biblical. But they are not.
Colossians 1:16 reminds us that “all things were created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:20 reminds us that God expects us to bring restoration or reconciliation or shalom of all things to Him. This includes both material and immaterial things. And everything in life is connected – it’s how it was made to be! You cannot do just one thing. There are ripples and impacts everywhere. And yes, that can get messy – but in good ways!
And so, we continue to discover new ways to explain the sacred/secular divide.
This week we are in Morogoro, Tanzania – thirty-seven of us from twelve different countries. We will learn how to be mangos. We will discuss new ways of how God is revealing to us His message about eradicating the sacred/secular divide. Our desire is to listen and engage together, sharing what we are learning about what works and what doesn’t work. Our desire is that every person can hear this message in a way that will resonate with their own heart and mind in order to bring about whole-life discipleship, without segments.
Please pray for us during this time! Here are a few pictures of the arriving teams – there is great excitement to be together again after three long years!