Shechtman's discovery (quasicrystals) in 1982 fundamentally changed the way chemists look at solid matter. It initially faced strong objections from the scientific community, and even got him kicked out of his research group in the United States.
Now 30 years later, including years of ridicule, Shechtman has just received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
I believe that God is continuing to shake up the way we view and understand His church. It is by definition a living organism filled with all of the wonder—and more—of all living systems throughout the universe.
What does this have to do with quasicrystals that shook up scientists understanding of matter? Here is the description of the clusters and atoms within quasicrystals:
“It is perfectly ordered, it is infinite—and yet it never repeats itself.”
“The atoms… congregate in patterns which are not reproducible and are unpredictable.”
Prior to this, it was assumed that matter only contained elements that could assemble in specific predictable patterns.
Okay, so I’m no chemist, but I still think there is something wonderful about this that speaks to all living things including the church. It does not take a scientist to stand in a forest, have one’s breath taken away by the overall order of the foliage while still realizing that every tree, shrub, and blade of grass is completely unique and even unpredictable.
In contrast, we tend to look at everything through the lens of the industrial age: reproducing patterns of things (from automobile assembly lines to Big Mac kitchen lines). We have learned to design patterns and then replicate them. We have done this in traditional churches, mega-churches, and yes, even in simple/house churches.
My contention is that we still have not tapped into the full wonder of the living Body of Christ which is meant to express itself in a wholly unpredictable and infinite way while still being ordered because of its organic connection to the Creator and King.