Through the study of nature, we know that life works because of the cooperation of a multitude of cells working in harmony. One example that suits our paradigm is the sponge. Occurring in a wide variety of rich colors and captivating shapes, sponges are a key component of many of the most awe-inspiring seascapes in many parts of the world.
Scientists tell us that the ancient sponge appeared about 2.5 billion years ago. Sponges are the most primitive of all multicellular animals. The body of a sponge essentially consists of masses of cells, among which there is only a loose association and very little coordination. The cells that make up the organism are embedded in a single gelatinous mass that we refer to as a sponge. No matter how big, how small, how young or how long-lived, sponges lack specialized tissues, organs and muscles. However, there is just enough association and coordination between cells that specialists accept that sponges bridge the gap between colonies of single-celled animals and truly multicellular organisms, even though the contribution by individual cells to an entire sponge is thought to be a matter of coincidence. Indeed, it is rather astonishing that such simple animals can be so varied, so beautiful and so well-adapted for living in the marine environment.
Experiments with one species have demonstrated that if an adult is broken up into very small pieces by being forced through a sieve made of a stretched silk cloth, soon after settling the tiny parts will reorganize themselves into a near-replica of the original sponge. This incredible feat is accomplished by an animal that lacks specialized tissues, and may cause you to reconsider the meaning of the term “simple animal.”
Moving up the evolutionary ladder, we next review a much more complex creature, the honey bee. Bees appeared on the planet about the same time as flowering plants in the Cretaceous period, 146 to 74 million years ago. Honey bees are social insects, which means that they live together in large, well-organized family groups. A honey bee colony typically consists of three kinds of adult bees: workers, drones, and a queen. Several thousand worker bees cooperate in nest building, food collection, and brood rearing.
The bee colony is an example of a superorganism, a meta-organism made up of many organisms.
Like the individual cells of a sponge, or the family groups of honey bees, the Body of Christ consists of individuals that are joined together to form the “body.”
Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. (Romans 12:4-5)
Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? (1 Corinthians 6:15)
He uses the example of the human body to try to explain the concept of being an individual in Christ as well as a part of a larger “superorganism” – the Body of Christ:
For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:12-20)
Paul goes on to explain that the “head” of this “body” is Christ Himself:
And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part. (Ephesians 4:12-16)
Paul also explains that the Gentiles have been included into the Body:
The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Ephesians 3:6)
Paul shows that the Rapture will be of the Body:
God raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? …But anyone joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him… Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? (1 Corinthians 6:14, 15, 17, 19)
As a part of the Body of Christ, the Lord fulfills His promise to make all things new…
Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
What “new” is included in His promise?
Our salvation as a new creation:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Our new spiritual bodies:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
(1 Corinthians 15:49)
New heavens and a new earth:
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:2-4)
And so, even with all the troubles we are experiencing with the trauma of these End Times, we can look forward to our new, eternal life as the Body in the Lord’s kingdom!
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)