The world is broken up into two different kinds of people: TV dinner people and stew people. No, this has nothing to do with diet or taste preferences. These are lifestyle choices.
I’m a stew guy. My life is a big crockpot of tastes. (Some might say it’s a crock, period.) No boundaries. It’s one steaming cauldron with everything churning around together. Stew people like me have no problem “mixing up” all the different social circles of our lives: home, work, school, church, club, civic, etc. In fact, we kind of get a charge out of it.
On the other hand, if you belong to the TV dinner set, you like your life compartmentalized. Work is in one section, family in another, and so on. No juices from the Salisbury steak (e.g. golf buddies) can be allowed to leak into the apple sauce (say, church) section. Otherwise, your worlds collide. There was an entire Seinfeld episode about this perilous phenomenon.
As a stew guy, I enjoy connecting people from the different groups I’m involved with. For example, if I have a party, I’m likely to invite family members, neighbors, former co-workers, folks from church, others on the “10 Most Wanted” list. There’s little overlap among those groups (although some of my relatives are bubbling under the top 10).
A party held by a TV dinner type is a whole ‘nother story. First of all, it’s got to be smaller – only one group at a time. Second, more than one such soiree is required. There’s a family party, a work party, a neighbor party.
In his terrific book “The Tipping Point”, Malcom Gladwell refers to a group called “connectors”. He defines them as
…individuals who have ties in many different realms and act as conduits between them, helping to engender connections, relationships, and “cross-fertilization” that otherwise might not have ever occurred.
It’s important to note here that neither of these styles is “right”. Both have upsides and both have pitfalls. If you go out for drinks with both your getaway driver and your probation officer, that would be a Bad Thing… or at least a Stupid Thing.
I’d argue, however, that there are times when the TV dinner approach is inappropriate and unhealthy. If you have a friend who can help a family member, it would be wrong to keep them in separate boxes.
The Christian faith is one area where stew should be the cuisine of choice.
People who claim to follow Jesus don’t have the luxury of the TV dinner lifestyle in the area of faith. If He doesn’t touch all of my life, including all my relationships, I’m imprisoning Him. God doesn’t belong in a box.
It’s pretty obvious that Jesus was a stew guy. (Should that be “Stew Guy”?) His disciples were the most diverse collection of characters this side of a Robert Altman movie: a government lackey, a revolutionary, a few fisherman, a cynic, a traitor, and other selected eccentrics.
So enjoy your little Swanson’s meal with its aluminum subdivisions for meat, veggie, potato, and dessert. It’s okay. Sometimes, though, you have to mix it up.
Try some. It’s good for ya.