Thursday, May 29, 2008

The parable of laminin

“From the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace
by the blood of his cross.

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast,
not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.”

—Colossians 1:9-23 (ESV)

Laminin is a cell adhesion protein, one of a family of proteins which, according to Wikipedia, are “an integral part of the structural scaffolding in almost every animal tissue”; the article also says that “Laminin is vital to making sure overall body structures hold together.” Or, as a molecular biologist in Texas once put it to Louie Giglio, a story he tells in the clip embedded below, laminin is “like the rebar of the human body . . . the glue of the human body.”

Now, a great many folks out there already know this story, due to the wide audience the Passion conferences have had, so while this was new to me, it isn’t to many; but it’s still quite remarkable. Take a look—here’s the molecular structure of laminin:

So in other words, this molecule that’s vital to holding us together . . . is cross-shaped. The structure of our bodies, at a deep and fundamental level, is cruciform. What’s more, as my delightfully perceptive wife points out, it echoes the Trinity, as it’s a cross made up of three parts.

God has left testimonies to himself buried all through creation, little embedded parables for those who have eyes to see his hand and ears open to hear his voice; this, I believe, is one of them, just a little witness to and reminder of the truth Paul articulates in Colossians: Jesus Christ is the one who holds all things together. This is a spiritual truth, but it’s also a far greater truth about our whole world: Jesus is the one who holds everything together, who holds it all in his hand and sustains it all by his will. He’s the one who keeps the planets orbiting their suns and the suns moving in the vast dance of the cosmos, and the one who keeps protons bound to neutrons and electrons spinning joyfully in their orbitals; all that exists, including us, exists because he continues to will it to exist, because he holds it in his mind and heart and remembers it to itself. And in our own bodies, we have a little echo of that fact, a little parable to point us to that truth, in the tripartite cross-shaped molecule that is “the rebar of the human body.”

Thanks, Hap, for teaching me that.

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