Skip to content

Insight #342 – Caterpillar or Butterfly?

Which one gives you the creeps? Why not both? After all, they’re the same creature. Kinda. It’s a case of before and after. It’s a case of transformation. We call it “metamorphosis.” That’s from the Greek word “metamorphoo.”   

Jesus’ Transfiguration

One day, Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain. Suddenly, Jesus didn’t look like a normal human being. “He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his garments became as white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). Jesus was “transfigured” – from the same Greek word: “metamorphoo.”

And Us?

Our beloved Apostle Paul urges us, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed” (Rom. 12:2). You guessed it – from the same Greek word: “metamorphoo.” As the caterpillar is transformed, and as Jesus was transformed, so we are called to be transformed. What a revolutionary idea!

Becoming a Christian is much more than joining a church, much more than asking Jesus to forgive my sins, much more than being buried in water. Becoming a Christian is so drastic that Jesus said, “You must be born anew/again” (John 3:7). Being born once is not enough. We have to start life all over again. Paul expressed it yet another way: “Our old man was crucified with him… so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin” (Rom. 6:6). Death to the old person in order to rise a new person.

Crucifixion – death – new birth – transformation – metamorphosis!   

Not Conformed

In our text, Paul prefaced “be transformed” with “don’t be conformed to this world.” Most of us don’t like to stand out like a sore thumb. We are more comfortable when we conform. But conformed to what or to whom? Ever since Adam conformed to his wife, Satan keeps tempting us to conform. Talk like the world. Dress like the world. Watch movies filled with worldly sex and violence. Put a job ahead of spiritual priorities. Lie a little, ignore the speed limit. And on and on. God says, “Don’t be conformed – to this world.”

Rather than conform to the caterpillars, God calls us to change into a beautiful butterfly. He calls us to be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). He calls us to return good for evil, to give thanks rather than complain, to pray for our enemies, to feast on His Word. And on and on.   


How can we live a transformed life? Of course, it is God’s work in us through Christ, but we must cooperate with God. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Make no mistake; it definitely does involve outward changes – just like the transformed caterpillar-to-butterfly. However, it begins with the inside: “by the renewing of your mind.”

We have to think differently than the world. God said, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). We must fill our minds with God’s thoughts. In this spiritual warfare we must daily be “bringing every thought into captivity” (2 Cor. 10:5). We must strive to “have Christ’s mind” (1 Cor. 2:16). With a transformed mind, life will be transformed.

Are you a caterpillar or a butterfly?