Have you ever felt like a caterpillar in a cocoon. You are at a particular place in your life where you know things are about to change and possibly in a pretty big way, but you just don’t know how it will all turn out. Or maybe you are just feeling like a caterpillar that hasn’t reached the cocoon stage yet and instead you just know that you are not happy with how things are going in your life. It’s pretty hard to imagine any kind of transformation more dramatic than a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. One is the subject of derision and even disgust and the other is a thing of beauty that has been the focal point for artists for hundreds of years.
For me as a follower of Jesus, this reality came home to me recently as I picked a verse for the year from 2 Corinthians which says,
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
As a Christian, the transformation that the Bible describes here is pretty hard to to imagine as I contemplate my life and then think about the possibility of “being transformed into his image”. I know that the Bible says that we were all created in God’s image, but with the fall and the reality of sin in our world and in my life, it seems like we must be a pretty distorted image of what we were originally created to be. In some ways it almost feels like things went in reverse and God’s human creations regressed from the butterfly state back into the caterpillar. Yet, right here in the middle of 2 Corinthians is this call to become like Jesus. The reality of life for many of us, however, is that it often it just feels like a cocoon that we don’t know how to get out of. We would all like to be the butterfly, but just don’t know what to do.
The irony of this verse is that the answer is so simple and yet so challenging – we are just asked to contemplate His glory. This sounds like a lot of doing nothing and a lot like a caterpillar hanging around from a tree limb. The interesting thing about the caterpillar, however, is that while he is simply hanging around a whole lot of change is happening in the cocoon.
So as I begin to consider contemplating God’s glory this year, I am looking forward to seeing him active and alive in my world with the unveiled face that is the privilege given to us by the death of God’s son on a cross over two thousand years ago. This means that I don’t have to hide or cower in fear as I watch what God is doing and instead I can enjoy the view with the knowledge that it is changing me in ways that I may not fully understand at the time.
Somehow, though, I have a feeling that contemplating God’s glory is going to require a lot more of me than simply hanging around from a tree limb. It seems like I will have to:
1. Take time to notice what God is actually doing in our world and this might mean slowing down.
2. Recognizing how distracted I am and how enticed I am by the ways that the world tempts me to see beauty in things that have nothing to do with God at all.
3. Embracing the reality that God’s glory is reflected best in the lives of people that He has actually transformed not in those that talk the loudest and have the biggest platforms to promote their version of Christianity.
The best part of all of this is the end of the verse where I am assured once again that none of this is about me, but about allowing God to transform me through His spirit. If it were left up to me, I have the strange feeling that I would be hanging around in a cocoon for a really long time.