Sunday, February 19, 2012

Butterflies, not caterpillars

Romans 8:1 "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death."

The earth bound caterpillar
I used to watch caterpillars all the time when I was a boy.  They always fascinated me in how they could eat and eat all the time.  A caterpillar by nature does two things: eat and crawl on the ground.  It is governed by the law of gravity.  You don't see caterpillars wriggling their way into the air because their caterpillar nature lives on instinct, and only knows gravity.  The "law of gravity" matches quite well with their nature. 

All human beings born into this world are by nature "fallen in Adam".  By nature unconverted human beings proceed along the law of "sin and death".  Like the caterpillar, unbelieving man lives by his desires and only knows one law.

The cacoon of transformation
When I was watching caterpillars, I would sometimes follow lines of them crawling up trees.  I thought perhaps they were doing that to eat the leaves.  However I noticed something strange.  The caterpillars were building these strange nests!  Then without warning, they would crawl into these cacoons and suddenly be gone.  The Creator of Heaven and Earth was drawing them to do that.  Remarkably, in that cacoon, the caterpillar goes through what many would characterize as a violent transformation - what some may say to be a sort of "death".  The body dissolves, and in the course of time, that lowly caterpillar is "transformed" into a butterfly - what biologists call "metamorphosis".

Romans 12:2 tells us as Christians: "do not be no longer conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind...."   That underlined word in the Greek is the word "metamorphize".  Quite literally, when a person is converted by grace through faith, they are transformed.  Their former propensity to "only want to sin" is changed to a desire to "want to sin no more".  The law of the Spirit and life becomes the primary law of their new existence.

The Butterfly lives by the "law of lift"
Unlike the caterpillar, which lives only to eat and crawl on the ground, the butterfly lives to soar and be among the fragrance flowers of God's creation.  It's wings are designed to take advantage of a second law written into the creation - "the law of lift".  The law of lift enables butterflies and airplanes to overide the prevailing force of gravity.  The butterfly is a marvel of creation, whose design values the fluttering of wings and the currents of air. 

Similarly as we see in the verse above, "The Spirit of life in Christ" has freed me from the law of sin and death.  The currents of God's grace enable the flying.  As a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), I am to excercise myself in the fluttering of the wings of my faith through prayer, God's word and weekly worship with God's people. (Hebrews 10:24-25)  As a new creation, my growing desire is to flutter among those things which emit the fragrance of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)  The Holy Spirit Himself works inside of me to live as a butterfly of sorts.  Yes gravity will tug on me, I will feel its alluring force urging me not to fly. However I must remember that as a butterfly, I do not have to live as I formerly did - as a caterpillar. 

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