Flying high

June 7, 2014

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

Back in my lost years, a young pastor tried to talk to me about finding Jesus and the joy of being born again. At the time I still considered “born agains” members of some kind of singing, dancing, Spirit-catching cult.

 

I imagined loud-mouthed, Bible-thumping preachers who were con men trying to steal money from innocent old ladies and the poor. Proper worship meant sitting in silent prayer or following the words at the service on Sunday.

 

It was kind of a weird take on things for a guy who actively participated in a relatively liberal Catholic church for much of his early life. Before such things became routine, our church had a folk mass and another with a full rock band to bring in more liberal and youthful followers. I enjoyed youth retreats and meditation sessions.

 

But I guess the traditional masses with the pipe organ and choir impacted me more than the newer celebrations, because years later when that person tried telling me how blessed I would be if I devoted myself to Christ and joined his contemporary flock, I was less-than-receptive.

 

Apparently, God wanted me to continue wandering for a while longer before He came knocking.

 

Years later, I was dealing with an exceptionally boring evening at home. I flipped through television channels and came upon some nature show where the calm soothing voice of the narrator explained how natural it was for hundreds of ants to eat the writhing caterpillar on the screen.

 

I made a note to check the script before accepting a role in any future nature shows. I was about to change the channel when that soothing voice continued, so I hung on for a while.

 

The narrator happily announced that the plight of a second caterpillar would be quite different. He would wrap himself in a cocoon for a while and when he was ready…Voila! He emerged as a beautiful, free butterfly! He was no longer crawling along the ground at the mercy of vicious ants and other hazards. After his transformation, he was riding the wind and showing everyone his new colors.

 

As I finally changed the channel, I vowed to remember that metaphor next time I had to convince someone to make a change.

 

It wasn’t until after Jesus invited me back into the fold that I truly appreciated the perfection of the butterfly metaphor. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

 

When I came back to Jesus, what a change it was! No longer was I crawling around at the mercy of bad influences and misguided ideas. The Bible and a new church family were my cocoon and helped me prepare my new colors. When old temptations came calling, my new self was able to fly away undamaged.

 

I understand now what that pastor tried to tell me so many years ago. That I shrugged off his words and continue on my destructive path embarrasses me. But it also gives me hope that some of my friends and loved ones will eventually find their new selves, too.

 

I ask God to help them find their cocoons before life’s pitfalls consume them. I want to see them fly off the ground with their new colors and enjoy the freedom of being a new creation, too. That is my prayer for everybody.

 

Unfortunately, being a new creation is exactly what scares so many people from accepting Christ. The devil has planted uncomfortable scenarios of what it means to be born again. One friend of mine immediately cautioned me not to start preaching to him.

 

Another recoiled in apologetic concern when she used a curse word in front of me. When a flirty waitress was told by my brother that I was recently born again, she apologized! Some people really think that Christians are offended by people having fun; that we are going to lecture them every time they do something “wrong”.

 

Someone seriously asked me if I was still “allowed” to watch football games. It was like they thought I joined some kind of singing, dancing, Spirit-catching cult or something!

 

A butterfly’s new beauty is obvious. It doesn’t need to call out or whistle to get noticed. It is one of the quietest creatures in the world! Paul tells us to live a good life and revel in God’s goodness and mercy.

 

Praise Him. Worship Him. Thank Him. As we go about life, our faith and joy will show like a butterfly’s colors. If that gives others something to aspire to, maybe that is all they need to have God come knocking on their heart, too.

 

And that would be the answer to a prayer.

 

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