Metamorphosis: How to Transform Your Spiritual Life
I’ve had a thing for transformations since middle school, when I first saw Princess Diaries, where Anne Hathaway, a nerdy high school student with frizzy hair and glasses suddenly finds out she’s a princess. Her grandmother, the Queen, flies in with her posse of experts and gives Anne a makeover – new hair, a touch of makeup, new wardrobe and princess lessons. By the second movie, Anne’s character is completely transformed from the girl she started out as.
Lately, the word metamorphosis has been on my heart and mind, especially the life and teachings of Apostle Paul, as I read through Romans.
Paul (I feel like he’s taught me so much through his letters in the New Testament, that we can totally be on a first name-basis, don’t you think?) was an educated, wealthy and respected man. With his background and social standing, Paul had a great deal of influence over social and political opinions. When he spoke, people listened.
But, he despised and persecuted Christians - “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” (Acts 9:1), until he encountered God.
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?’ But Saul increased all the more in strength and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is Christ. –Acts 9:20-22
I imagine people approached Paul’s transformation wearily – could it be a trap? Was he mocking them? How could this be? How could this person of all people be a Christ follower?
Metamorphosis: a profound change in form from one stage to the next in the life history of an organism, as from the caterpillar to the pupa and from the pupa to an adult butterfly; a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformed by magic.
Paul was transformed – he experienced a spiritual metamorphosis. The old Paul no longer existed and was replaced by a man of God.
How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? –Romans 6:2
This is something I think we’ve diluted in modern Christianity – somewhere along the way we forgot about our own transformation in Christ when we gave Him our hearts for the first time.
Have you ever met a recently converted believer? It really is the most beautiful thing to behold – she glows with happiness and redemption, everything in her life begins to pale in comparison – food, work, school, sleep – all that is sacrificed for a few more minutes to spent reading His word or in prayer. Like the beginnings of a new relationship, every moment is spent trying to discover who this amazing God is and why He would possibly choose you of all people.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. -2 Cor 3:18
Although these transformations are personal, they’re also very public, because people notice the difference of someone who has had an encounter with God. You just can’t hide the peace that fills your soul and the joy that makes everything around you beautiful and perfect.
But, first love can fade if not nurtured into something deeper. The thing is, you’ve changed, but the world around you remains the same – the same friends, temptations and sins are out there for you. As the initial glow begins to fade, Satan begins to exploit your weaknesses.
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. –Romans 7:15
Paul struggled with sin too and he writes often in his letters how he learned the meaning of dying for sin and living for God.
But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. –Romans 6:22
That’s what we have to remember – sin no longer has any power over us. We are new creatures in God. Once transformed, a butterfly can’t ever go back to being a caterpillar.
Once upon a time, God transformed me, but somewhere along the way, I began to bring back things into my life that weren’t from God – worry, fear, sin – blaming my flesh and human tendencies. I didn’t trust God to be enough, but more so, I didn’t trust in the power of His transformation.
I want to be more like Paul though – changed through and through without a trace of the old in me. This is what I am - transformed.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. –Romans 12:2
How has Jesus transformed your life? Does it show in the way you live, think and speak?
PS. Fun fact - Paul carried two names because of his dual citizenship: Saul and Paul. The Hebrew name Saul means "desired" or "asked for," and the Roman name, Paulus, meaning "small." I haven't fully researched this, but I think it's so ironic - when he started out persecuting Christians, Saul was certainly desire and influential, but when he became known as Apostle Paul after converting to Christianity, his name meant small, meaning humility and serving the Lord above personal ambitions and dreams.