"Learning to Fly"
Christian transformation is illustrated, however imperfectly, by the story of the caterpillar who wanted to fly.
In many ways Mr. C (Mr. Caterpillar) was much like us. Caterpillars are all legs and mouth. They spend their whole life crawling around destroying vegetation and fruit. But they can’t fly.
Mr. C, however, longed to fly. In fact he tried repeatedly to do so – using every idea and suggestion he could come up with to accomplish his goal.
First, he climbed to the top of his favorite plant, confidently walked out to the end of a twig and jumped believing with all his heart he could to it! To his chagrin, he plunged swiftly to the ground landing with a sound “splat”!
Following an extended period of convalescence and recovery, Mr. C again set out to accomplish his goal. This time he had several months to further analyze things. Realizing he must do something to escape the law of gravity, he began researching ideas. Upon reading about hang gliding, he ordered a hang glider kit.
After packing the kit to the top of his plant, he assembled his little hang glider, strapped himself into its harness and again walked to the end of the twig. Facing the glider into the wind at just the right angle, Mr. C again stepped off the end of the twig.
For one exciting moment he was thrilled as an up - draft actually lifted him up a bit. However, it was soon obvious that his direction was once again earthward. Down, down he went as he mulled over his problem “The law of gravity gets me every time!”
Making something less than a “soft” landing caused a crowd to gather. One onlooker, hearing Mr. C’s complaint about the persistence of the law of gravity, stepped forward to say, “I know what you need - a gasoline engine! It works every time”
After gathering all the necessary equipment, up he went again to the top of the plant. He fashioned a set of wings out of a large leaf, strapped on the engine, started it and zap - - - off he went in a dizzying, uncontrollable spin. Although the ride was exhilarating, its ultimate direction was the same as all the others. Long before the gas had run out, Mr. C. crashed unceremoniously into the side of a tree and sank sadly to the ground. Failure seemed to be his lot.
As he sought to pickup the pieces, a stranger approached to see if he could help. After learning of Mr. C.’s various exploit’s the stranger said, “Your problem is simple: If you want to fly, you have got to become a new creature!”
A bit shaken by such an idea, Mr. C., responded, “A new creature? But how can I possible do that!”
“You can’t,” came the reply. ”But a miracle can happen in your life and you can be created brand new!”
We interrupt our story for a moment to say that we are in just the same situation: Born as members of an old creation, we can’t fly. We are unable to escape “the law of sin and death.” Try as hard as we may, give it all we got, be as innovative as possible and we are still bound by sin’s slavery.
What do we need to become new creatures - to get out of Adam and into the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can do that by themselves. It’s a miracle only God can perform.
Going back to Mr. Caterpillar - one day he climbed out on that same twig and began to build a little house called a chrysalis. Then he crawled inside, shut the door and went to sleep - and a miracle happened.
We couldn’t see anything from the outside for several months but then one day the chrysalis began to move. Soon it cracked open and out came, not a caterpillar, but a brand new creature: a miracle has happened and a beautiful butterfly emerges.
Now, remember, the same creature came out of the chrysalis - but it was completely different. The caterpillar only crawls, spending its life chewing up plants and ruining fruit. The butterfly flies, sipping the nectar from flowers and pollinating them so that there will be more fruit.
And this is just how we are. In Adam we were fruit wreckers - spiritually dead toward God and bound in sin. One day we came to trust in Christ. Understanding from God’s Word that He loved us and sent His Son to die for our sins, we stopped trying to save ourselves and simply trusted what He had done for us at
Calvaryfor our forgiveness and salvation.
Thus all our sins were forgiven, God counted us righteous before Him and He gave us the gift of eternal life, making us alive in Christ. At that moment when we trusted in Christ, we became new creatures. The old condemnation, death and slavery were exchanged for righteousness, life and freedom in Christ.
All this happened when we trusted Christ. We didn’t feel it, see it or sense it, but it happened. It is a real spiritual blessing that becomes ours in that moment. Now we need to learn to live life as the new creature that we in fact are “in Christ.”
Let’s return to Mr., C. He’s there on that twig again, but now he’s a beautiful butterfly. He’s the same guy, but he’s different. He is a butterfly. Now he has to learn to think and act like a butterfly.
As he considers the change in his life, our friend is a bit unsure how to proceed. “This is all new to me - how do I do this? I really want to fly. I think I know how - I’ve certainly tried hard enough in the past.” Thus he walks out to the end of his twig and jumps. To his disappointment and horror he again plummets straight to the ground.
“I just don’t understand it! The law of gravity still holds on to me. I’ve got to try harder. I know what to do - my hang glider!”
So he gets the hang glider, carries it to the top of the plant and once again laboriously puts it together, preparing to sail away into the sky. As he steps off the twig, however, his experience tells him what his heart feared all along - it just wasn’t working. Down he again goes. Nothing seemed to work - the law of gravity still held him fast no matter how he tried to free himself.
Once again he sits in despair. What is wrong? Once again he racks his brain for an answer.
I’ve got it! The gas engine. That’s what I need - more power!”
As he sits amid the latest wreckage, dejected, defeated and tired - to - the - bone from trying to fly and failing, his mind keeps questioning, “What’s the matter with me I thought I was a new creatures butterfly. Butterflies are supposed to be able to fly, but everything I try fails. It’s simply impossible for me to fly! The law of gravity is too much for me!”
After awhile that same stranger comes by and asks why butterfly our butterfly is down in the dumps. As he pours out his frustrations, the stranger begins to chuckle. “Why, you’re not a caterpillar - you are a butterfly! God has given you something brand new in your life. Look on your back! Those are wings. You are made for flying!”
“But what about the “law of gravity?” Mr. B. asks sarcastically.
“Look See how your wings are shaped - they are designed in a special way so when the air passes over their top a vacuum is created and it sucks you UP into the sky. Gravity still works but the new wings God has given you have a new law, the law of aerodynamic lift, and it overcomes the law of gravity. Try it!”
“Well,” hesitated Mr. B., “I’ve never done this before. I know all about the law of gravity, but I’ll trust the law of aerodynamics to overcome it.”
Out on the twig he goes. This time he simply spreads his wings and flaps them naturally in the breeze. Suddenly his feet leave the ground and he is flying. What has happened? Mr. B. has quit thinking like a caterpillar and has begun thinking like the butterfly he really is.
Christian friend, so long as we continue thinking like an old creature, counting on our old ways, our human strength and ingenuity; as long as we put our “confidence in the flesh” we too are destined to fail. “The law of sin and death” will hold us fast.
It is when we begin to think like the new creatures we are in Christ that we begin to fly. Mr. Butterfly could not fly thinking like a caterpillar. He had to learn to be who he is - a new creature. So it is with us. We have to learn to think like the new creature we are in Christ. Then Romans 8:2 will become a reality in the details of our life:
“FOR THE (operation) LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HATH MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH.”
Like the law of gravity, “the law of sin and death” drags us down no matter how we struggle against it. It is only “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” that sets us free so we do not have to crash, be pulled down and sin anymore. It sets us free from our old habits, our old ways so we can walk in newness of life. Whatever we may be struggling with, the answer is the same: Christ living in us. It is only through this totally exchanged life that we can begin to see the change in life we desire.
The Lord Jesus Christ by His Spirit has come to live in us to enable us to walk in newness of life in our homes, our marriages, with our children, on the job, at church, when we by ourselves - in every situation. And just how high can we fly? Romans 6:11 - 13 gives us an idea:
“Likewise RECKON (count) YE ALSO YOURSELVES TO BE DEAD INDEED UNTO SIN, BUT ALIVE UNTO GOD through Jesus Christ our Lord.”(Rom 6:11, see also 6:6-7, 7:4)
“LET NOT SIN THEREFORE REIGN IN YOUR MORTAL BODY, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (Rom 6:12)
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but YIELD YOURSELVES UNTO GOD, AS THOSE THAT ARE ALIVE FROM THE DEAD, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”(Rom 6:13)
<END of story>
The moral of this story is this. (By Art Licursi)
- Knowing and standing on the facts of our death with Christ (Rom 6:3) separates us from our Old Man (Rom 6:6) of the Old Creation.
- It is only by Knowing and Standing on the facts of our new IDENTITY in Christ and His overcoming resurrection life within us (Rom 6:4), as our one NEW CREATION LIFE, that makes it possible for us to live righteously “in Christ Jesus.”