There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to develop into a butterfly.
– R. Buckminster Fuller
Metamorphosis is a Greek word meaning transformation, development or change in shape. The life cycle of a butterfly goes through four stages of metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa and adult. As Believer’s, we also undergo a metamorphosis as we develop spiritually through our stages of growth: Baby Believer, Growing Believer, Maturing Believer and Glorified Believer. Just as each stage of a butterfly’s life plays a unique purpose in the next stage, the same is true for Believers.
The egg stage of the butterfly represents the beginning of life. For Believers, after we go from the point of believing in Christ to accepting Him in our lives, we are born-again. At the point of salvation, Christ adopts us into His family. Life begins anew for us at this stage, as we begin developing our relationship with Him.
The larva or caterpillar stage is the feeding stage. At this stage, eating is the larvae’s main mission from sun-up to sun-down. At birth, a caterpillar is the size of a pin. However, within the first two weeks due to eating constantly, it can grow up to two inches long. To accommodate the rapid growth, it sheds its skin multiple times. The food it consumes during this time is stored for usage as an adult. As a new Believer, we are born-again Baby Believers – babes in Christ. At this point, to develop into His image we need to drink spiritual milk constantly via prayer, quiet time, Bible Study and fellowship with other believers. As we develop more insight into “whose” we are, we grow rapidly and begin to shed old habits like dead skin. We begin to store the Word of God in our hearts (Psalm 119:10-12). Once stored, we have eternal access to it as led by the Holy Spirit.
The next stage is the pupa stage where the caterpillar stops eating and weaves a cocoon of silk. At this stage, on the outside no evidence of change is occurring. The change is internal and must complete its process to be effective. At the end of this stage, the butterfly will flex its wings thereby strengthening them to break itself out of the cocoon. Spiritually, as we develop through our Christian adolescent years, we are a Growing Believer. We will encounter periods where we are developing our relationship with God, but we do not sense or feel our growth. Instead, our growth is occurring from the inside out. He will complete the development process in our hearts and our spiritual muscles grow by flexing against temptation and enduring trials.
The final stage is the adult stage. Whereas, initially the caterpillar only had a few tiny eyes, short stubby legs, very short antennae and could only walk, the process of metamorphosis has transformed its body. Now the butterfly has compound eyes, lanky delicate legs, long knobby antennae and can now walk or fly. Not only has its external appearance changed, the butterfly has changed internally as well. Its appetite changes from eating leaves to drinking nectar. Now, its life-goal is reproduction! For a Believer, our final earthly stage is a Maturing Believer. By the time our development reaches this level of experience, we have developed spiritual eyesight. While our eyes have not changed physically, we can begin to “see what God sees”. Our spiritual body will have also developed. Our prayers and our faith may have begun at the crawling stage. However, now that we have become a good and faithful servant, we can run and not get weary; we can walk and not be faint; indeed, we can soar with God on wings like eagles. (Isaiah 40:31). Additionally, our appetites begin to change as we develop. We no longer have the appetite for some of the worldly pursuits we used to chase. We now float around the worldly choices and land on Godly habits, as we develop our faith. Lastly, our focus and mission now places a higher priority on the Great Commission. We know that our purpose is to share our faith and reproduce our faith in the lives of others.
Our final stage is a glorified believer when we leave this world to be in God’s presence. We have that privilege because we discovered Christ. Then we believed in Him and then accepted Him. Only God knows what is really in us, but we do know that He has a plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11). If we submit to Him and accept His guidance, He will equip us and develop us to navigate his plan for us.
There is nothing in a new believer that tells you what they are going to develop into, only when they submit to the development process can they grow and fulfill God’s plan for their lives.
– RL Johnson
Note: This posting was inspired by reading an illustration in a sermon posted by Ajai Prakash.