August 17, 2011


White Blood Cell

Often I have reflected on the paradox of the amoeba and its mirror image, the white cell. The amoeba, a self-contained organism, alone performs all the basic functions of life, depending on other cells only when it ingests them as food. The white cell, although similar in construction and makeup, in a sense is far less free.
A larger organism determines its duties, and it must sometimes sacrifice its life for the sake of that organism. Although more limited in self-expression, the white cell performs a singularly vital function. The amoeba flees danger; the white cell moves toward it. A white cell can keep alive a person like Beethoven or Newton or Einstein...or you and me.

I sometimes think of the human body as a community, and then of its individual cells such as the white cell. The cell is the basic unit of an organism; it can live for itself, or it can help form and sustain the larger organism. I recall the apostle Paul's use of analogy in 1 Corinthians 12 where he compares the church of Christ to the human body.

[Brand then goes on to make the following analogy which is a clever parallel to Pauls run down of how members of the Body of Christ all have their unique gifts and utility]

The body is one unit, though it is made up of many cells, and though all its cells are many, they form one body... If the white cell should say, because I am not a brain cell, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the muscle cell should say to the optic nerve cell, because I am not an optic nerve, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an optic nerve cell, where would be the ability to walk? If the whole body were an auditory nerve, where would be the sense of sight? But in fact God has arranged the cells in the body, everyone of them, just as he wanted them to be. If all cells were the same, where would the body be? As it is, there are many cells, but one body.
That analogy conveys a more precise meaning to me because though a hand or foot or ear cannot have a life separate from the body, a cell does have that potential. It can be part of the body as a loyalist, or it can cling to its own life. Some cells do choose to live in the body, sharing its benefits while maintaining complete independence - they become parasites or cancer cells.

~Dr Paul Brand- In The Likeness Of God (p. 35-36)

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