Brand is a physician specializing in the research of leprosy and the work with lepers. He says that often "doctors are like employees at the complaint desk of a large department store. We tend to get a biased view of the quality of the product when we hear about its aches and pains all day." So he took time to consider the wonder of what God made using Paul's analogy from the New Testament and he wrote his thoughts and ponderings on this subject and while working with Yancey as an advisor on another book, he offered him his manuscript of thoughts. Together, Brand and Yancey wrote this book.
The book has four main categories to work with in the analogy. Cells, Bones, Skin, Motion. In the opening segment, Brand paraphrases Paul's analogy this way:
The body is one unit, though it is made up of many cells, and though all its cells are many, they form one body...If the white cells should say because I am not a brain cell, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the muscle cell should say to the optic nerve because I am not an optic nerve, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an optic nerve cell, where would be the ability to walk? If the whole body were an auditory nerve, where would be the sense of sight? But in fact, God has arranged the cells in the body every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If all cells were the same, where would the body be? As it is, there are many cells, but one body.
That analogy conveys a more precise meaning to me because though a hand or foot or ear cannot have a life separate front the body, a cell does have that potential. It can be a part of the body as a loyalist, or it can cling to its own life. Some cells choose to live in the body, sharing its benefits, while maintaining complete independence - the become parasites or cancer cells.
In the segment about bones, he compares the Ten Commandments to the structure that holds up the church...and makes a profound argument about the place and purpose of those bones.
In the segment of skin, he discusses the importance of physical contact between Christians and the world.
In India, when I would treat a serious case and prescribe some drug, sometimes the relatives of the patient would go and purchase the medicine, they bring it back and ask me to give it to the patient 'with my good hands.'
There is so much in this book I would love to quote and explain to you but I will end where he did:
I show you a mystery: "In him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit" (Ephesians 2:22).