Thursday, January 14, 2016

Caterpillars Before Christ

In our former lives as “caterpillars,” some of us faked it well…

Some of us were larger than life and looked good...

Some of us were, well, not popular…

Some of us just rolled along and got the job done… 

At the end of the day?  We were still just caterpillars. 

The world gave us leaves and we ate them.  We dodged hungry birds and just tried to survive.  Our lives were sometimes good, bad and ugly.  The sky was too far away to think about.  We couldn’t have gotten there anyway, even if we had tried.

Then we came to know Jesus.  We wanted to wear the beautiful wings of our salvation proudly.  
But over time, even with all our best efforts, the wings grew heavy on us.   It’s hard to crawl upon leaves and branches with large wings; such wings get entangled and don't seem suitable for the environment we crawled around in day after day.   We tried to fly with them; we hit the ground all too often and wondered why.  The wings got in our way after a while.  They just seemed incompatible with the life we were trying to live. 

Now, being a caterpillar became a lot harder.  Instead of becoming stronger, we grew weaker.  Praying and an occasional leap of faith from the treetops just confirmed a deep nagging suspicion: Either we have misunderstood this life in Christ, or maybe the whole thing is suspect.  A lumpy, bumpy caterpillar with added on butterfly wings is designed for failure.  We sometimes even wondered what life would be without those wings. We thought leaves were all we could eat.   We wondered why the life inside of us couldn’t just take flight. 

But Christ died to make possible a newness of life for us and in us.  He didn't come to merely stick new butterfly wings on an old caterpillar body.  

We need to reassess what salvation means.  We are saved from sin and death, yes, but we are also renewed and released to be what He wants us to be.

First, our caterpillar selves must choose to die:  "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (Rom. 6:4).

We must be buried with Christ in a cocoon.   His image must reproduce in us, slowly but surely. 

What emerges from that tomb/cocoon?  The New Creation.    We now want to drink nectar—liquid sugar from the source of the life we now possess:  Christ Himself.  Now we can take wing and those wings lift us ever higher in Him.

Listen to the Word:  “My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  (Gal. 2:20) 

 The beauty of this is illustrated in an excerpt taken from an online article from Scientific American:

How does a caterpillar rearrange itself into a butterfly? What happens inside a chrysalis or cocoon?

First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need as a mature butterfly or moth—discs for its eyes, for its wings, its legs and so on. In some species, these imaginal discs remain dormant throughout the caterpillar's life; in other species, the discs begin to take the shape of adult body parts even before the caterpillar forms a chrysalis or cocoon…

Once a caterpillar has disintegrated all of its tissues except for the imaginal discs, those discs use the protein-rich soup all around them to fuel the rapid cell division required to form the wings, antennae, legs, eyes, genitals and all the other features of an adult butterfly or moth… One study even suggests that moths remember what they learned in later stages of their lives as caterpillars.

 Do you see this?  Inside of the caterpillar is the butterfly.  But the caterpillar must first die in order for the butterfly to emerge.  The caterpillar didn't earn those discs.  They are an integral part of the caterpillar, placed there long ago, in a garden far away...

When were our "discs" placed in us?  "Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes." (Eph. 1:4)

The Word also teaches us: "And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God." (Rom. 8:10-14)

Yes, you may remember with great pain the days of leaves and crawling.  But He has forgiven all of that.  Forever. 

Allow Christ to work in you and live His life (not yours) through you.  Don't try to be good--your caterpillar nature will not allow it.  Rest in Him and trust Him to transform you, cell by cell, day by day.  He forgives sin, yes, but don't allow sin to dominate who you are, because you now have "Christ in you, the hope of glory."  (Col. 1:27)

His word is your nectar.

Sitting in His presence is your nectar.

Talking with Him is your nectar. 

Take Him in.  Every day. 

Become what He destined you to be all along:  His child.  

He died for you.  Now let Him LIVE through you.

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