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Saturday, November 13, 2010


metamorphosis: Romans 12:2 illustrated
(The graphic is a link to the original, in my Flickr photostream. Larger sizes should be available there.)

The word here translated as "transformed" is, as you can see, closely related to the processes named metamorphosis. Actually, insects have two kinds of metamorphosis. Grasshoppers, and many others, just get larger and more mature, occasionally shedding their old skin/exoskeleton, after they hatch out of the egg. This is known as incomplete metamorphosis. Butterflies, and many others, have four distinct stages, namely the egg, the caterpillar or grub, the pupa or chrysalis, and the adult. This complete metamorphosis seems to be closer to what Paul is telling us to do. The caterpillar and the butterfly are not very obviously connected to each other, based on their appearance and behavior. But they are connected. The adult comes from the caterpillar, through the pupa. But the adult is a more graceful, freer, more beautiful creature, and it also can reproduce, unlike the caterpillar. I suppose that, if you asked a caterpillar if it wanted to become a pupa, and just sit there silent, without eating, for days, weeks, or months, it would refuse. Yet, I suppose that if you could ask a butterfly if it wanted to go back to being a caterpillar, it would quickly refuse. Similarly, God wants us to be transformed into beings that try do do His will, not ours. It's not very appealing. We want to direct our own lives. But it's best for us, ultimately -- and I'm speaking about here on earth, not some heavenly pie in the sky -- it's more freeing to do what God wants, by choice, than to do what our unredeemed selves want to do.

The word here translated as "transformed" is also used in Matthew's and Mark's accounts of the transfiguration of Jesus, early in His ministry, witnessed by Peter, James and John. The only other use of the word in the Bible is in 2 Corinthians 3:18 "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit." (WEB)

Note that God's desire for our butterfly selves is that we be transformed into creatures that reflect God's glory. Note also that the tense is present -- God wants this, and it is possible, in this life.

Make it so! Thanks for reading, and looking.

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