Monday, December 22, 2014


By Shari Te Huia

The Bible speaks of something called ‘transformation’. It’s found in these two verse in the New Testament.

2Corinthians 3:18, ‘But we all with unveiled face, beholding and reflecting like a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit’

Romans 12:2, ‘And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of god is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect’

So what does it mean for us believers to be transformed? And how can we experience transformation in our Christian lives?


The word ‘transformation’ according to Merriam-Webster, means a ‘complete or major change in someone or something’s appearance, form, etc’. This gives us a basic definition of transformation as a kind of change.

But what does transformation mean for us as Christians? Does it mean we clean up our act, change our behavior to be more ‘Christ-like’, and live by a new set of rules and regulations? When we look more closely at the verses mentioned above, we find that in the Bible, transformation actually means something different from all of these things!


In the original Greek language of the New testament, the word used for ‘transformation’ is metamorphosis. The biological definition for metamorphosis, again according to Merriam-Webster, is ‘a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as for example from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to the adult butterfly.’

Although an outward change in appearance or form takes place, the change comes from within the life of the organism and not from exterior rules and regulations. A caterpillar is born with the life that causes it to become a butterfly. It doesn’t put on a butterfly costume or strive to act like a butterfly. As long as it eats, the information in the caterpillar takes the nutrients it consumes, assimilates them into the caterpillar’s metabolism and causes it to grow and change and be ‘transformed’ into a real, genuine butterfly.


A caterpillar changing into a butterfly is an excellent picture of what the Bible speaks of concerning the transforming of believers into the image of Christ

Metamorphosis is a Greek word meaning transformation or transfiguration.

I will out-line the metamorphosis process of a butterfly then go into a bit more depth

·         The caterpillar starts its life out as an egg

·         Then it becomes a caterpillar

·         As a caterpillar its job is to eat and eat AND eat some more until it bursts out of its skin

·         When it is mature, it stops eating and starts spinning a silken pad, called a chrysalis, all around itself

·         Then it rests. During this special period of rest, dormant (sleeping) cells now become energized and turn into the wings, legs, eyes and other parts of the adult butterfly

·         It stays in this chrysalis for a long time. Some varieties stay inside for a whole year!

·         When God determines that it is ready, the former caterpillar slowly bursts out of its silken pad and is now a butterfly. It no longer has to crawl, it can now fly!

God uses nature to teach us spiritual lessons. I believe that the metamorphosis of a caterpillar is one example of this. As human beings, we are meant to grow: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. From the caterpillar/butterfly, we can learn the different phases of spiritual growth.


First stage: the egg

As with a butterfly, we start our Christian walk as tiny eggs which are in every essence, quite fragile. As hard of a shell as some of us give the outer appearance of having, when we surrender to the Lord and as babes in Christ we are like delicate eggs, requiring nourishment, protection and supervision/discipling until we are ready for the next phase of our spiritual lives.

(Interesting fact: each tiny egg is a circular or oval shape that can easily roll away and get lost, misplaced or crushed. Baby ‘eggs in Christ’ need to stay together with like-minded ‘eggs’ and under the protective authority of their spiritual covering until they have matured)


Second stage: the caterpillar (larva)

When the egg hatches, consequently, a butterfly does not emerge, but rather a fuzzy and peculiar insect in the similitude of a worm. This furry little creature stumbles and inches its way along as it consistently grows and expands. In this phase, the caterpillar spends most of its time eating. (I remember when I first gave my life to Christ and joined a church home, all I wanted to do was be under my Pastor’s teachings, read books that enhanced my spirit and listen to music that nourished my soul). Then the caterpillar will start to moult, which means to shed its skin and in this way it grows bigger. (As I grew in the things of God, I found that certain habits, places, people and things no longer fitted comfortably in my life and I shed them – like the growing caterpillar, I was moulting and growing in my faith.

Interesting fact: a caterpillar will go through the moulting process several times while it is growing to maturity and during our Christian walk, we are also constantly shedding layers of our former ‘selves’. We must shed the anger, the hatred, the depression, the stress, the habits and anything or anybody that would hinder us from moving forward.


Third stage: Pupa (chrysalis)

During the pupa or chrysalis stage, the caterpillar has come into maturity, reaching its fullest length and weight. They become so full that it is now required for them to build a protective ‘shell’ called a ‘cocoon so that they can prepare for the next phase/transformation  of life. (God has set aside and sanctified His people to do a work in Him and there are times in our lives when we have to ‘shut in’ and go into a ‘cocoon’ in order to hear from Him. That secret dwelling place is where we find shelter, strength, comfort, healing and deliverance. Our spiritual ‘cocoon’ is a place where God takes all those things that we have shed and replaces them with his Word, His creative works, His Holy Spirit and his love

Interesting fact: about a day before the adult butterfly emerges, the chrysalis becomes transparent and before we can become effective witnesses, we not only have to shed layers and layers of our former self, but God may require us to become transparent and share our struggles that we can be living examples of His transforming greatness in our lives)


Fourth stage: adult butterfly

Inside the cocoon, the caterpillar goes through a major transformation called ‘metamorphosis’. As many of you already know, a butterfly in appearance is quite different from a caterpillar, growing wings that are often colourful and quite beautiful, and taking on a whole new shape and form. As the butterfly emerges from the cocoon, its wings are slightly soft and still pressed against the body. The new creature may not quite be used to its new form and may nt even realize that it can fly right away. As the blood begins to pump into the wings, suddenly, the butterfly realizes its capabilities and within hours it will master flying and take off! (Some Christians have been in church all of their lives, feasting on God’s word, learning and meditating, digesting and applying. At a point, we become so full of God’s word that our cup overflows and it is now time for us to break forth from that cocoon and soar to higher heights! At this point it’s time to pour back into the earth, sow seeds into another or mentor/minister to someone else. At this point ministries are born, books are birthed, songs are written and the gospel is shared throughout the earth through art, music, speech, literature and dance!

Interesting fact: there are approximately 28 000 species of butterfly worldwide and in a similar way, we are all uniquely designed and fearfully and wonderfully made, handcrafted by the Master’s hands, varying in gifts, talents and abilities. There is no need for us to covet someone else’s ‘wings’ when God has purpose for each of us. And it is His perfect timing and will for all the seasons or ‘stages’ in our lives)


There you have it! An analysis and comparison of the maturing of a Christian versus the growth cycle of a Caterpillar/butterfly. So tell me – what stage are you in? Many of us have experienced our own ‘metamorphosis’, becoming new creatures in Christ – but what is also similar is that this transformation occurs in ’stages’. Sometimes these stages of life are uncomfortable and even painful but in the end, a beautiful butterfly emerges, souring high and rising above all of the layers that it had to shed along the journey!


Other scripture references

·         Transformation of a person who has surrendered their life to Christ: 2Cor 4:16; Titus 3:5, Phil 3:21;

·         Transfiguration Mt 17:2; Mark 9:2

·         Change: 1Cor 15:5

·         Root transformation Ezekiel 36:26-27