Have a Better New Year than this Caterpillar

Here comes the New Year.  Get ready for the national shift from cashews to diets.  But change is more than some seasonal cliché.  It really is on a lot of minds.  As reported in Christianity Today,  YouVersion studies found an astonishing one hundred sixty-four million people electronically sharing and storing bible verses. The surprise passage that recently topped lists was Romans 12:2.1

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. 

Although we come to Christ just as we are, the Bible tells us dozens of times to expect change, to desire it, and by the grace of God, to pursue it.  If you never change, you’ll never grow.

Resistance to godly change can hurt you more than you think.  Romans 12:2 uses the word “transform,” which comes from the Greek metamorphoo.  We’re all familiar with the metamorphosis that takes place when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Suppose for a minute a caterpillar actually refused the process.  Maybe it didn’t want to go into that cramped cocoon.  It liked the view at the top of the maple tree.  It liked the taste of leaf salad.  If that were the case, the caterpillar in question would run into some serious straits—the same straits a Christian will experience when resisting the inward work of change wrought by the Holy Spirit.

  1.  Without change the caterpillar remains earthbound. The Christian also finds that non-change means staying anchored to the ground.  We won’t “get” spiritual things.  They’re above us.  We can’t help but ask questions like, “If I pray, will God help me lose weight/make me a better dancer/get rich?  If not, then why do it?” Earthbound Christians tend to shape priorities at ground level—they set their minds on the things below.2  To them faith sounds irresponsible.  It is easier to trust only what they see.3  James said “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”4|
  2. Without change the caterpillar remains vulnerable. Caterpillars are basically on the menu for every bird, spider, and wasp.  They’re easy pickings because they’re fat and slow—just like us when we don’t abide in Christ.  The prophet Micah spoke of spiritual predators who “eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them, and break their bones in pieces and chop them up like meat in a pot, like flesh in a cauldron.”5  Resist the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation, and you’ll become easy prey.  Anything hurts us.  Even the slightest irritation can ruin an entire day.
  3. Without change, the caterpillar remains dangerous. The Saddleback caterpillar comes with a formidable array of stinging equipment.  A casual encounter with one of them is so excruciating that a person can actually pass out from the pain.  One man described it as “being stung by fifty wasps at once.”  This may sound a bit contradictory, since the previous point talked about vulnerability, and yet, when we fail to walk in Christ, not only are we easily hurt by everything, but we easily hurt others.  Sometimes terribly.  This can happen without our even trying.  I’ve been there.  Someone pulls me aside and says, “You hurt my feelings when you said that.”  Huh?  Hadn’t even noticed.  Frequently a believer’s bad behavior can grow yet darker.  Fleshly Christians fall into malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander. 6  Peter even wrote Christians, saying, “let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.”7   Wow.  Talk about fifty wasps at once.

You’re right for wanting positive change.  Caterpillar life isn’t good for you.  Transformation is better.  That’s when “the truth shall set you free .”8  It’s when you escape from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”9  It’s when you put aside your old likeness, and exchange it for the image of the Lord.10

Then again, you might really like being a spiked bag of jelly that eats leaves.

 

1  Zylstra, Sarah.  “Sorry Again, John 3:16: The World’s 10 Most Popular Bible Verses of 2014” Christianity Today.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/december/worlds-10-most-popular-bible-verses-youversion-2014.html?utm_source=ctdirect-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=9472162&utm_content=322417822&utm_campaign=2013

2 Col. 3:2

3 2 Cor. 5:7

4 James 3:15

5 Micah 3:3

6 1 Pet. 2:1

7 1 Pet. 4:15

8 John 8:32

9 2 Pet. 1:4

10 2 Cor. 3:18

Photo credit:  Stan Lupo

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