The root of the word transformation is from the Greek word metamorphoo, which means, “to change from the inside out.” This is where we get the word metamorphosis.
In nature, God has shown us a profound example of transformation and metamorphosis in the life cycle of the butterfly. The butterfly begins as a crawling caterpillar. But at some point, it sequesters itself in a safe location, becomes very still, and weaves itself into a pupa or cocoon. Then, in this place of hiding, the caterpillar’s old form dies and liquefies. Everything it has been and known dissolves. What once was, is no more. The same chemical substance exists, but not in the same form; it is being reformed in secrecy, and the creature that eventually breaks forth from the pupa bears no resemblance to what it once was. The liquid mess has been transformed into a beautiful butterfly which neither looks nor acts like its previous caterpillar nature. It no longer crawls—it flies!
Now, if God sat down with the caterpillar and said, “I have made you to be a butterfly—I have created you to fly,” the caterpillar might say, “But look at me. This is who I am. I could try harder to be a better caterpillar and learn to crawl faster. But grow wings and fly? I don’t think so!” Flying for a caterpillar doesn’t come through increased effort. It comes through transformation.
That is exactly the awesome miracle that occurs when we become new creatures in Christ! God doesn’t stop at merely saving us from judgment; he changes us into something we were not before. He transforms us, fashioning in us a brand-new nature and identity capable of fulfilling the destiny he has woven into us. The Father longs to turn our “old mess” into his glory. He wants to draw us to somewhere safe where we can be still and know that he is God our Father, who will transform us—no longer to crawl, but to soar!
Continuing with the butterfly analogy, we like how James Bryan Smith addresses us as a new creation in his book The Good and Beautiful God:
…[The caterpillar, a worm,] goes into a cocoon—a chrysalis, in which the root word, appropriately, is “Christ.” And it emerges a butterfly, completely transformed. The old has passed. The new has arrived. It was once weighed down by gravity; now it can fly. Christians were once under the reign of sin, but now we can live in freedom. And you can also see why it’s so painful to me that so many Christians don’t understand this? When I hear a Christian say, “I’m just a sinner saved by grace,” I want to say, “That makes as much sense as a butterfly saying, ‘I’m just a worm with wings.’”
The bottom line is this: As a believer in Christ, we are not defined by our sin or our struggle.
Yes, we struggle and we sin, but our core identity—who we really are—has been transformed. We are not sinners who have been forgiven (as important as God’s forgiveness is!), but lovers of God who have a good and redeemed nature. And if our true identity has been redeemed, then our heart is not sinful but righteous.
Our heart is good.
If we do not internalize this truth, we will always focus on getting better and sinning less instead of resting in the love of Father God and allowing his kindness to lead us toward change (Romans 2:4).
Our core identity is now righteous—a saint, a butterfly—no matter what I do or do not do. And this true identity is not based on ourselves but on placing our faith in Christ and what he has accomplished through his death and resurrection (Romans 4:24, Philippians 3:9). Who we really are—our identity and our position as it relates to God—has been changed.
Like the caterpillar, we need to allow God to transform us from the inside out into who we were truly created to be. Then we can say, from the heart, “I am me and I am very okay! "
"I was made to fly!"
(Excerpt from "The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself - New Expanded Edition")
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