By Alisha Ruple
Can I nerd out on you for a little while? I don’t get to do that very often, being a stay-at-home mom with two preschoolers.
I studied horticulture in college. I could not have studied anything cooler. Fact. I truly enjoyed learning in every class. Some things that I learned have receded deep into my brain, never to be found again. But a few things really stuck with me. Things like polygalacturonase. What?! Polygalacturonase is one of the main enzyzmes responsible for breaking down the middle lamella in fruit. What’s this middle lamella I speak of? It’s only the cement that holds individual cells together. It’s pretty important. Ever bitten into a juicy apple? You can thank the middle lamella for that. You see, the pectin bond is so tight in that middle lamella that an individual cell will rip in two, rather than be separated from its neighbor cell, giving a quick release of delicious cell innards (also know as juice). Have you ever bitten into a mushy apple? Gross, right? Spit that thing right out of your mouth! Polygalacturonase has been at work. As this enzyme works to break down pectin, the middle lamella essentially dissolves. When your teeth hit the apple, rather than bursting through the cells with a juicy explosion, they slide right between the cells, leaving each cell perfectly intact. All that cellular goodness still gets in your mouth, but it hasn’t been released so you can enjoy it.
The reason this process has stayed accessible in my head for the last 15 years is because of its use as a Christian metaphor. God planned on His children sticking together in a close-knit family (also known as a single body…1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:4, Colossians 3:15), bonded together with love (Colossians 3:14). Hmm, kinda sounds like some good ol’ apple cells.
Colossians 3:12-15 “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
Each of us is to be wrapped up in mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, grace, and forgiveness. That is good stuff inside of us! Life-changing, world-changing stuff! And we have the chance to be perfectly bound together by love. Not just any old version of love, but true Christ-love. This is our recipe for living in peace with each other. And that’s better than a juicy apple any day.
Do you feel like you’re living in peace with those around you? I know my house doesn’t feel peaceful all the time. A temper-prone three year old, a temper-prone 34 year old, a dramatic five year old, and a willful 33 year old…yes, sometimes peace alludes us. Each of us has our personal polygalacturonase, the thing that slips in and convinces us self-preservation is way better than sticking closely glued to someone. Because sticking close to people is messy. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that our relationships are like iron sharpening iron. But sometimes the iron that is supposed to sharpen us ends up gouging us .
Philippians 2:3-4 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
Mushy apples or juicy apples? Self-preservation or self-sacrifice? What’s your polygalacturonase? It’s not always easy to stick together. Quite frankly, God never promised us it would be easy. Here’s a promise from Him: By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). Everything we need to stick it out in that relationship when it would be easier to split, to check out, to isolate or ignore.
Sometimes to slow the ripening process (juicy to mushy), fruit will be treated with enzyme inhibitors. God clues us into a key polygalacturonase inhibitor at the end of of Colossians 3:15. Always be thankful. When we think about what God is providing, the small and huge ways He’s working, it automatically shifts the focus off of ourselves and our self-preserving nature. Maybe you can’t be thankful for that person you’re supposed to be sticking to. Been there…still there some days. But I can always be thankful for how God takes care of me. I know He’ll provide what I need in that moment of emergency, when love is dissolving like a rotting apple.
Be thankful, don’t be selfish, pray to be stuck together with God’s love. Stay juicy!