Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Being the Cell I was created to be

Our bodies are made up of 70 trillion cells.

70,000,000,000,000.

That’s a 7 plus 13 zeros.

To get an idea of how many 70 trillion is, if you live to be 80 years old you will have lived

.. 29,200 days.

........Or 700,800 hours.

........................Or 42,048,000 minutes.

.............................................. Or 252,288,000 seconds.

In order to live 70 trillion seconds you would have to live to be 2,219,685 years old.

That's two million
two hundred nineteen thousand
six hundred eighty five years old.

Seventy trillion cells. In one body. At any given rate, just like the human beings on earth, some cells are dying and some cells are being born. Life is reproducing itself every second of its existence.

When the Apostle Paul used the analogy of the human body to compare the body of Christ’s function he didn’t know about cells, nerve receptors, hormones, blood types, DNA, genetics or mitochondria. He couldn’t know, except by faith, the marvelous workings of cell division. But God gave him a glimpse just by what he could see. (1st Corinthians 12:12-31).

Modern technology has given us a deep look under the surface of what Paul saw, and still scientists continue to study human cells and their purpose and find new discoveries all the time.

It fascinates me how just one cell, one organ, one tissue is vital to the constant running of the body.

For instance, the kidneys. Two organs. We can live with one, but our bodies do better with two. They could do their main job, filtering, without any help from too many others in the body. But they do need other parts of the body to do their main job. They need the sodium-potassium pump. They need hydrogen. They need blood. They like to get help from other sources to do their job better. They send signals to the bone marrow, to the gut, to the heart, to the blood. They talk to other parts of the body finding out what they need, informing other parts what they need to function properly to help other parts. The communication between the kidneys and its co-workers is very tight and in sync. No risk of communication gaps or generation gaps or missing memos with the kidneys. When they work according to design, blood levels stay regulated, blood pressure is functioning at satisfactory levels, the bladder holds and excretes as it is necessary. There’s harmony in the body when the kidneys are working. Harmony in the body keeps the kidneys working.

When a human body has a functioning kidney, the outward appearance of that body looks healthy. Skin color is good, the body inhales and exhales normally without pain. The human body is able to excrete and retain urine at healthy levels.

In our day to day lives, in our homes, our churches, our workplaces, our government, our country, do we think our cell is the only cell that is important to the body to which it belongs? Does it seem like each cell (each member, each denomination, each worker, each political party) thinks it’s the only cell, the most important tissue, the most important organ? Does the kidney think that about itself? What would happen to the body if it did? The kidney is made of too many different ingredients to call itself made up of only one item.

What if the white blood cells said they were the only cells that were important? Their job is to fight infection and if they thought their protection was all that was needed to protect the body by continually monitoring for the presence of bacteria, then what would the eosinophils do? They are a white blood cell, but they hang around when bacteria come in with bugs like parasites.

What about blood in general? If the moving, ever producing, ever dying, ever reproducing organism called blood decided they were all that and nothing else was needed , what would the bone marrow do? Blood can’t exist without bone marrow and bone marrow is in the bone.

But if blood, the red stuff that we see when we cut ourselves, said to the platelets living inside it, “go on, we don’t need you. We flow without you,” we would bleed to death. The platelets, although not the only part of blood, are a vital part of the blood and protect the body from death.

The heart can get a little on the hoity toity side too. The heart knows that if its not beating well, nothing else is working too well either. The heart is a “vital” organ, yet a little microscopic part of the cell called the mitochondria is vital to the vital organ. If the heart’s head gets too big and tells the mitochondria to take a hike, well, that heart isn’t going to be contracting too much longer. You see, the mitochondria, those little tiny, microscopic cells are the behind the scenes workers in the heart functioning and beating as it should. They are beat to the heart’s beat.

And we can’t forget the lungs. The very essence of breath in the human body. The lungs, by themselves can’t do anything without the alveoli. Tucked inside, coiled up are millions of tiny grape-like clusters, that, would they ever be taken out and uncoiled would cover half the size of a tennis court. Yet, they aren’t a boastful organ or tissue. They do their job, breath by breath they open when air comes in the lungs and close when air goes out. They keep oxygen and carbon dioxide levels at satisfactory levels and the body breathes. When the alveoli work, gas exchange works. When gas exchange works, your fingers work, your big toe can do its job, your inner ear can keep you from falling over, your heart will keep pumping the fresh oxygenated blood to every place in the body it needs to go.

Yet the alveoli don’t do something.

The alveoli don’t criticize the infected hand for taking more of its fair share of oxygenated blood. Somehow it knows that when the infection clears, the hand will get back to doing the work it was created to do, and the hand will gladly get back to work. The alveoli don’t criticize the adrenals for how much sodium they keep in reserve and let loose when needed. The alveoli just do the job they were made to do. They don’t seem all that important, you can only see them with a microscope, but the power that lies in all of them working together, in harmony, is what keeps the human body vertical, living, moving, experiencing life. It doesn’t exist to criticize another worker in the human body, the alveoli simply do their given job, to see that the body functions as it should.

Then we have the hypothalamus, the “master gland” of the human body. All interpretations, all dials, all regulators, all sensory equipment stems from a little bitty gland tucked deep inside the brain. The hypothalamus knows. It knows when the body needs food. Hypo knows when the body is cold, warm, hot. Hypo knows when there’s a little bit too much calcium floating out of the bones and not going back in. But they hypothalamus doesn’t tell the Parathryoid gland, “I’ve got things under control, you can take a nap.” The hypothalamus doesn’t have control issues. The hypothalamus is willing to let other tissues, other glands, other organs take part in making sure the body is doing what its supposed to do.

The hypothalamus does not have to micromanage. The hypothalamus can trust the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, the parathyroid gland, the adrenal glands, to all do their job and report back to it in a timely matter. The hypothalamus recognizes the unique ability of all its counterparts under him and lets them do the job they were created to do.

So what else does the human body do? More than can be discussed here and still keep you, the reader, engaged and understanding, not overwhelmed and confused by the complexity. It might be better to discuss here what the human body does not do.

The human body does not criticize when a weaker part of it falls short. The human body instead sends in a host of compensatory networks that fill in where the weak one has fallen. It doesn’t wait for the weak one to be dying or near death to send in a team of compensation workers. At the first signal that something is not right, the message is sent out to the standby, on-call team to step in. When the human skin is bumped, scraped, bruised, cut open, immediately white blood cells are there, clotting factors from the blood step up to the plate and they work as a team to jump in and help the wounded comrade.

The members of the human body don’t make it their life's work to look for what’s wrong with the other members. The aldosterone regulators don’t step in and tell erythroipoiten to kick up the red blood cell production. That’s not their job. The aldosterone regulators do their job without complaint, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

The human body continues to function no matter what is put inside it. Some things are bad for the human body, some things make the human body run better. For as long as it is able, the human body continues to work its hardest to do the work it was created to do: house the spirit of Jesus Christ. The human body is made up of trillions of cells, each cell with a unique and special function in the human body. No cell tries to be something that it’s not created to be. No cell goes outside of where it was created to function. No cell thinks that the other cells are better, wrong, right, weaker, stronger. Each cell does the job it was created to do and does it willingly. No cell gets all the glory. No organ gets all the glory for causing the body to function as it should.

The human body looks out for the entire body. When one part of the body needs help, every part of the body seeks to do its part to help the weaker.

In the church, Christ's body, the cells are designed to function dependent upon the Head, Jesus Christ. The cells of the arm of Christ cannot say it doesn’t need the mitochondria to function. Every part of Christ’s body needs every believer (every cell) to function. If the cells of the arm are doing what they were created to do then they do not have the time nor desire to make sure the renal tubule cells are doing their part. The arm cells are working hard to make sure they are a healthy functioning part of Christ’s body.

If the kidney cells tell the blood cells they aren’t needed to maintain good kidney function, the first thing that will happen is the function of the kidney is impaired. As long as the kidney cells resist the help from the compensation team of the blood cells, the kidney will remain impaired, furthering the decline of the rest of the body.

If the heart cells find that the spleen cells are too many and too scary to deal with, then the heart cells begin to decrease in number and the heart of Christ’s body begins to fail.

If the cells that make up the cartilage of joints, tell the cells that make up the muscles, “we don’t need you,” the skeletal bones begin to fall on one another, and are unable to carry the weight of the Body.

What about the "bodies" that make up our lives? Our homes? Our government? Our workplaces? What cell are you in those areas? How are those "bodies" functioning? Is there harmony? Do these places run like a well-oiled machine? If not, why not?

Remember....

Everybody is a cell working for a greater purpose than its own function.

What's your purpose?

What's your cell meant to be, to do, to influence?

Every cell is important.

Even if you're number 69,999,999,999,999.

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