Butterflies are beautiful. I especially like the monarch butterflies that get their nourishment from nectar contained in my lantana bushes. As I observe these amazing creatures as they flit from flower to flower, I often reflect on the fact that they have not always been as beautiful and free as they are now.
Young butterflies are very different from adult butterflies. They have actually gone through a great change in their appearance and function. They look different, move differently and even eat different kinds of food. Even their purpose changes. Whereas the caterpillar lives to eat, the butterfly lives to reproduce.
The metamorphosis has four stages. The egg develops into a caterpillar. The main function of the caterpillar is eating. As it grows, it sheds its skin four or five times, storing food to be used later. A full grown caterpillar stops eating and forms a pupa (called a chrysalis in butterflies and a cocoon in moths). When that stage is finally complete, what emerges is what most people think of when they consider butterflies – those beautifully colored insects that frequent my lantana.
Even though I am aware that the caterpillar turns into a butterfly, I do not sit and watch caterpillars. They are not attractive. They are sluggish. They cannot fly. It is when they have been released from their confinement that the beauty and the freedom of the butterflies capture my delight.
The metamorphosis that takes place in the life of a butterfly is similar to what happens to us when we become Christians and make Christ the Lord of our lives. We don’t lose our original identity, but we are transformed with a new purpose. We have been released from our bondage and are free.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). John MacArthur says, “The English word metamorphosis comes from the Greek word used in this verse translated ‘transformed.’ It speaks of a total change and involves a choice: to express your new nature through holy living or to allow your flesh to act unrighteously…. Only the believer with a spiritually transformed mind can resist the world, the flesh and the devil.”
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1 ESV).