The differences between a caterpillar and butterfly are obvious. The sole purpose of a caterpillar is to eat enough to provide the nutrients necessary for one of natures most amazing transformations. The butterfly seeks out nectar, pollinating plants as it goes.
Once it reaches the appointed time, the caterpillar wraps itself in a cocoon, and emerges days later completely different.
It was once thought that everything turned into some sort of soup, only to be reformed, but scientists now believe that some of the things that existed in the caterpillar are used (sometimes differently) in the butterfly. Small clusters of cells are used in structures of the adult butterfly. Tissues are broken down into clusters of cells that are used to build muscles. Structures such as the gut, trachea and parts of the nervous system are remodelled and used again. Apparently, some memories are retained in the butterfly, suggesting nerve cells remain connected during the transformation process.
As I read the article that the information above came from, it struck me that the life of a caterpillar is not dissimilar to that of a person who comes to Christ.
The bible tells us that we are new creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17) The old person has gone, the new has been born. The reality is that whilst this is true in a spiritual sense, the old physical body still exists. The transformation from one who is at enmity with God, to one who is accepted as a beloved son is instantaneous at the point, we say yes to Him (Romans 8:15). That our bodies and our minds take a bit of time to catch up with the condition and position of our spirit man is something that takes some longer than others to deal with. My experience, like that of the caterpillar is that some the memories from my past life still play in my mind. It is only by deliberately taking every thought captive that I am able to live as one who is seated in heavenly places with Christ. (Ephesians 2:6)
The process of changing me into the person who I was created to be will inevitably involve some disassembly and reworking, but I believe that if I allow Him to do the work, trusting in His master plan He will create something far more beautiful than the way I was. If I trust that He is good, and any changes He wants to make, regardless of the pain of making them, are only made to make me more like Him, then the process will be shorter, and the results far better.
The thing about caterpillars is that once they become butterflies, there is no way back. The transformation is complete, they will never crawl around looking for food again. They will forever be airborne, looking for nectar.
So too with the Christian. Once the transformation has occurred, there is no way back. The old man has died, the new man lives. The thing that troubles me is that there are some in the church who seem to want to bring the old man back to life. They keep trying to revive him, not understanding that there is no way to bring him back.
There are some things that we were never meant to carry beyond the cross. As we reflect this Easter on the death and resurrection of our Saviour, let’s leave the old man there at the cross. Let’s move together, forward into our new reality.
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. Romans 12:2