Recently my kids discovered a caterpillar on a bush outside of our house. They are at ages where curiosity is abounding and so we brought it inside and borrowed an insect net from some friends. Soon after, the caterpillar spun its chrysalis for its transition to a butterfly. We did some searching on the internet and found out that the chrysalis stage typically lasts for 11-12 days. Unfortunately for the kids, this meant that we were going to be on vacation when the butterfly emerged, so we took the insect net to a friend’s house and had them send some pictures and videos of the butterfly.
Soon after we arrived home from vacation, we found several more caterpillars on the bush and ended up with 13 caterpillars, some of which we “blessed” other families with by giving the caterpillars away so they could have the opportunity to watch this amazing process. We ended up with 7 of our own, and over the last few days we have watched them closely as they have matured into butterflies and completed the biological process of metamorphosis. It has been a truly fun experience to watch my kids’ excitement, and it also reminds me of the metamorphosis that occurs in the life of the believer.
Just as caterpillars transform into butterflies, so too do we as believers undergo a transformation at salvation when the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We are born again into a new life. Nicodemus wrestled with this idea in John 3 when Jesus tells him that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus asks a reasonable question, wondering how a man can be born again when he is old, and Jesus goes on to explain that “that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” We know that Jesus was not talking about physical rebirth, but rather of spiritual rebirth. But how does this happen?
The Greek word “metamorphoo” is used several times throughout the New Testament and means “to transform (literally or figuratively), change, transfigure.” It is the word that is used to describe Jesus’ appearance in The Transfiguration in Matthew 17 when “his face shown like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” It is also used in Romans 12 where the apostle Paul writes, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Conforming to this world is easy. It is passive and requires no effort. Simply put, unless we are thinking intentionally, we will naturally conform to the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of the world. Transforming is active and can be difficult. However, through God’s gracious gift of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, our minds can be renewed to right thinking so that we can live the transformed lives that demonstrate what Christ’s sacrifice has done in our lives. This kind of transformation is only possible through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and is further developed through time spent in prayer and studying the Bible.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” How often do I keep these passages in mind?
Do I understand that as a believer, I have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, and I am a new creation? Do I realize that through Christ’s death and resurrection, I have died to sin and have been raised to walk in the newness of life (Romans 6:4)?
The process of metamorphosis is a miraculous transformation to observe as a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Praise God that the transformation of a believer is even greater!