Stem cells are cells that are undifferentiated. This means that they have not yet acquired the functional characteristics they will later acquire. Even in this undifferentiated state, stem cells have the ability to replicate indefinitely. They are also able to produce transient progenitor cells. These are cells that are able to differentiate into specific cells, but can still be pushed into their target cells. Since scientists discovered that stem cells can be transplanted into the body’s damaged tissue to stimulate healthy cell growth and to regenerate that damaged tissue, regenerative medicine has been growing exponentially as a field of study. Sources of stem cells are varied, but include the umbilical cord, the amniotic fluid, the embryo, the brain and various tissues of adult human beings. Pioneer studies mainly focused on embryonic stem cells since they were believed to have a significant ability for differentiation and multiplication. But now we know that even stem cells from adults can be equally versatile although they seem to be devoid of the plasticity peculiar to embryonic stem cells. Dr. Douglas A. Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute claims that “harnessing the plasticity of stem cells and inducing their differentiation into a desired tissue is…within reach.”
We can draw spiritual lessons from the pliability of stem cells-“first the natural and then the spiritual,” (1 Corinthians 15:46). The Holy Spirit’s work is unhindered in a spiritually pliable believer. Just as the undifferentiated stem cells need to be coaxed into becoming a particular cell type serving the human body, the believer by degrees, can allow himself or herself to be spiritually moldable. Then he or she begins to take on the likeness of Jesus Christ through the persevering work of the Holy Spirit until Christ-likeness becomes more and more defined and the believer reaches the “stature of the fullness of Christ” spoken of by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:13. This is when the believer becomes an effective part of the Body of Christ; to bring regeneration and healing to its diseased tissues and organs. To the degree that we become malleable, we become powerful instruments in the hands of God for the Body of His Son.