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Not a simple life to be a single cell

August 16, 2011


“It is not a simple life to be a single cell, although I have no right to say so, having been a single cell so long ago myself that I have no memory at all of that stage of my life.”

—Lewis Thomas (1913–1993) author, biologist, physician

Each of us began as a single cell. This cell couldn’t move, think, see, or do things like laugh and talk. But the one thing it could do, and do very well, was divide—and divide it did. The lone cell became two, and then four, then eight and so on, in time becoming the amazing person that is you. Think of how far you’ve come. You can laugh at a joke, stand on your head, read a book, eat an ice cream cone, hear a symphony, and do countless other things.

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How amazingly God made us! Maybe this is the reason why He said, “Before you were formed in the body of your mother I had knowledge of you, and before your birth I made you holy; I have given you the work of being a prophet to the nations.(Jeremiah 1:5)

To which King David, responded
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth (Psalms 19:15)

and he added:
“your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16)”

He designed us in such a way that “creating us” in our mother’s womb is NOT the beginning and the end in itself, but rather a transition. We continue to grow even as an adult, we change physically, emotionally, via cell division. Imagine if that single cell did not divide at all– then you remain idle– not able to see, move, think or talk. You are alive, but you are not capable of the things that makes us human.

Mitosis: Let’s Split!
Mitosis is the most dramatic event in a cell’s life. Cellular structures that have always been there suddenly disintegrate, new structures are constructed, and it all culminates in the cell splitting in half. Imagine quietly going about your business one day, when you suddenly feel the bones of your skeleton rearranging themselves. Then, you find yourself being pinched apart from your midline, and before you know it, someone who looks just like you is sitting beside you. That’s akin to what happens to a cell during mitosis.

So, DIVISION is a positive thing. Whether it is about the cells in your physical body or cells (cell groups) in Church. We multiply by division and this is by God’s design. Do not resist it, just embrace the change. It maybe uncomfortable even heart breaking, but that is how we grow. Soon, you will not even notice it and will not even remember being part of that single cell anymore but a part of many cells. Soon,you will notice that our abscence does not matter anymore because a few people who worship just like you will be sitting just right beside you.

The other thing is, the fact that we came from a SINGLE CELL — that means a unity exists between the cells that keeps multiplying by division. All of the individual cells in my body have UNITY– that makes ME – ME! The church is the same! Though divisions take place, if the foundation is correct, UNITY exists–
“There is one body, and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6).

And this UNITY is none of our own making– its not the work of the pastor, or the evangelism team or the music ministry. This UNITY exists because we all came from a SINGLE CELL. The unity of the cells in our body exists, not because we told it to– its because all of these cells came from a single cell– that only divided later on. Therefore, DIVISION should not be a big deal, we should be thankful for it. We should not be scared of division if we know that we have body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father in us all.

It is impossible, of course, to ride two horses going in opposite directions–to attempt it is to put a terrific strain upon the anatomy! The Israelites of old were taught this sane truth when they were told not to yoke an ox and a donkey together (see Deut. 22:10). Why not? Because they go at two different speeds and are two different heights. They would simply chafe one another all the time. It would be cruel and counterproductive to link them together. This is God’s way of teaching symbolically that there are fundamental differences of gait and direction between people whose spiritual convictions are radically different. As Amos 3:3 tells us, two cannot walk together except they be agreed.

I realized that even if I share the same faith with others, it does not mean that our spiritual convictions would be the same. For example, my convictions about Praise & Worship, is that it must be Bible-based (hymnal), reverential,simple, practical but also elegant (piano and acoustic guitar). But others’ convictions about Praise & Worship is that it must be accompanied by drums and dancing and that it must outwardly manifested. I do not think neither is wrong. I tried to attend corporate worship for 2 years against my conviction, thinking that I have to be “UNITED” with the BODY of CHrist. Which I think is a wrong assumption. We do not have to do anything to be in UNITY with the BODY of Christ. Because our UNITY with the BODY of Christ is none of our MERITS, it already exists (if we are all truly Christians). So all attempts to be the same, in corporate worship, like “doing what everyone does”, in the attempt to be in UNION with the BODY of Christ is purely man-made– this is not the work of the SPIRIT but of the FLESH (e.g. ecumenism is attempting UNION not Unity!).

So now, God has freed me from condemnation, that guilty feeling that I am leaving the body of Christ, because of the choices I had to make, was a way for the devil for me not to attempt to look for a church where corporate worship through HYMNS is the NORM rather than being radically different. I can follow my spiritual conviction that worship need to be reverential without condemning my brothers who prefer contemporary music. And I am hoping that my brothers who like contemporary music will not condemn me for my convictions. We still worship the same GOD, we just worship in different ways. In order for us to grow spiritually, we must divide and find our own niches. It would also be wrong to force them to adopt HYMNS to accomodate our “WHIMS” when their hearts are screaming to the top of the HILLS. I do not want them to be in the same predicamet that I was in the last 2 years, struggling to fit in just because I thought this is what UNITY is about. Instead of celebrating how unique God made each one of us, we are chafing each other’s skins.

Nanay is also quite peaceful worshiping God by singing HYMNS– not to make herself happy or for purposes of “self-healing” in a holistic way, but because she felt that this is the best way she can thank and acknowledge how God works in our lives.

Anyway, even if I do not attend the same worship service, I can still be in UNITY with the same congregation through the same seven links that God has made for us in the first place. Prayer meetings, cell group meetings and birthday celebrations– I hope I would still be invited without the fear of condemnation. Stay joyful and hopeful!

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