The human body contains trillions of different types of cells performing an assortment of functions. For example, muscle cells manufacture energy for movement; bone cells make up the skeleton of vertebrates; red blood cells course through the blood taking food and oxygen to other cells, and fat cells store up energy and fat. Fat cells also control levels of free fatty acids in the bloodstream. Cells come in different sizes and shapes. The longest cell in the human body is called a motor cell which extends from the lower spinal cord all the way to the big toe. It can be up to 4.5 feet in length. Cells produce other cells in a continuous process of cell division. Every time a cell divides DNA re-forms itself. All these cells function in a conscious and coordinated manner to sustain the function of the body. Altogether the human body has 200 different types of cells.
Sadly, a situation can arise in which a cell might rebel and refuse to perform its programmed functions. For example, if a fat cell rebels, it begins to hoard its fat reserves and neglects the needs of the body for energy. It starts to grow exponentially and as it divides it produces daughter cells after its likeness-rebellious and self-serving. Soon a tumor begins to develop, threatening the well-being of the entire organism.
We, as a community of believers, can learn quite a bit from the behavior of our body cells. Ours is a mosaic community composed of a variety of members hailing from diverse backgrounds, professions, ethnic groups and races, forming one body: the Body of Christ. We have different specializations and unique abilities which we call spiritual gifts for the edification of the Body of the Lord. Some among us are teachers; others are pastors, prophets, healers, helpers, apostles…etc. However, if some members of the Body of Christ adopt the unfortunate stance of the fat cell described above and rebel against the Body; if they start utilizing their abilities for their benefit only, a spiritual tumor can easily develop and spread to other parts of the Body, crippling and stunting growth. Some of these spiritual tumors can grow so large that they can develop into cults with devastating consequences. Individual members of the Body of Christ can only find fulfillment in serving the rest of the Body wherever their gifts are required and not in self-service. Jesus’ ministry was the epitome of selfless service. This is the standard he set for his Body as well: “…but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,” (Matt. 20:26).