When I was a little girl, one of my favorite stories was about an African boy named Little Black Sambo. The story begins with Little Black Sambo returning to his home from the market. What made this day special was that Little Black Sambo had bought new clothes. He was going home with a new shirt, a nice pair of pants, and a fabulous umbrella to keep the sun off his head.
Now to get home he had to travel a path through the jungle. On his way, he met a tiger who wanted to eat him, but Little Black Sambo, who was very smart and quite persuasive, talked the tiger into taking his shirt, instead. The tiger thought he was now the best dressed tiger in the jungle. Little Black Sambo met two other tigers along the way with the results that they also left him thinking they were the best dressed tigers in the jungle, one wearing his pants and the other carrying his umbrella with a curl of his tail. Poor Little Black Sambo was left with no new clothes at all.
Before he could get home, Little Black Sambo heard the three tigers arguing over which tiger was dressed the best. He quickly climbed a tree to get away from them. That was a good thing because the three tigers came out of the jungle at the foot of the tree, took off Little Black Sambo's clothes, and began chasing each other around the tree. They ran so hard and got so hot that they melted into a puddle of sweet yellow butter.
Little Black Sambo climbed down from the tree, dressed in his new clothes, scooped up the butter in a pot, and went merrily home.
At my age in that distant past, it seemed perfectly reasonable to me that the tigers should melt into a puddle of butter as they raced around the tree. I know many times I have felt hot and sticky enough to melt into my own puddle of butter!
Only in recent times have I come to understand what holds our bodies together so that we do not become such a puddle. Thanks to a molecular biologist and to an evangelist named Lou Giglio, I know the reason that we do not melt into our own puddle of butter; the cells of our body are held together by a molecule called laminin. This molecule has the shape of a cross. Yes, a cross like the one on which Jesus died. (If you have not seen anything about laminin, follow this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ejj51hNIL3E&feature=related to see a video of Lou Giglio discussing it.)
I get excited about laminin because I love the symbolism of the natural world that gives me insight to the spiritual world. The structure of laminin and its purpose gives us several symbols.
The first symbol is one we made; the cross itself is a symbol. It represents all of Jesus' redemptive work that leads to salvation. When we see a cross, we automatically think of the Christian religion.
The second symbol is seen in the purpose of laminin and relates to creation. In the first chapter of the book of Colossians, it says that Jesus Christ created everything and that He holds all things together. So it is highly fitting that our cells are held together by a molecule shaped like a cross, symbolizing the truth that Jesus holds together each of us.
The third symbol is applied on the spiritual plane. The first chapter in Colossians also states that Jesus Christ is the head of His body, the church. The analogy of the church being the body of Christ appears many times in the New Testament and just as a cross-shaped molecule holds the cells of a physical body together; the work of Jesus Christ on the cross holds the members of His church – the cells of His body – together.
In the past twenty years, many people who thought it was their communion or denomination that was holding them together with other members have been shocked to discover that glue was not strong enough. When the organization of which they were a part decided to follow a path that was clearly not one established in the Bible, they left the organization. They discovered that they had more in common with others who were not part of their denomination or communion; the common denominator, the glue that truly holds us together, is always the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. In an organization claiming to be a part of Jesus' body, any glue based on humanity's rules or opinions will always fail to hold and leave a puddle of bitter rancid butter in the end.