“Daddy, come quick! Look at this!” The excitement in my oldest daughter’s voice calling from downstairs drew my attention from the computer screen. I quickly walked downstairs and found my two daughters looking into a plastic jar. I had walked into a miracle.
A couple of weeks earlier, Catherine and Danielle brought two fuzzy caterpillars home from a friend’s house. The first few days were exciting. With help from Debbie, they created a tiny terrarium out of a plastic jar. Soon, the caterpillars had each formed a chrysalis. Then for the next two weeks, nothing happened.
Now as I peered into the jar, I discovered that a butterfly had quietly emerged from its chrysalis. Poised upon a twig, it softly beat its new wings.
The exhilaration my daughter was feeling swept through our family. Right in our home, one creature had transformed into an entirely new creature! After being our houseguest for a couple of days, we released the first butterfly. About a day later, the second butterfly emerged and was released, evoking the same enthusiasm from our family.
As with many moments of our lives, this miracle in a plastic jar is layered with meaning. It reminds me of my daughters. The other day I was looking at their school pictures taken over the last couple of years. How they have changed! Even though they are only six and nine years old, they are transforming from little girls into beautiful young women right before my eyes. Needless to say, this is both thrilling and frightening for Debbie and me.
This miracle in a plastic jar also reminds me of the Christian’s life in Christ. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if anyone is “in Christ,” that person is a “new creation.” Paul’s choice of words means much more than simply “brand new.” The new creation we have become is a foretaste of the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21. We have become the very thing that the glorious story of God anticipates as its climax. Anyone living in Christ’s life has become something that the rest of creation is eagerly waiting for – God’s new creation. We have been transformed from one creature into an entirely new creature – into something more than just being human. We are people of the future living in the present. We are bits and pieces of heaven living on earth.
That’s why Paul spends so much energy exhorting us to live our present daily lives within God’s future order. In Ephesians 4:22-24, he writes, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Look at that again. We are to put on our new selves, (this is where it gets good!) which are created to “be like God in true righteousness and holiness!!!” Not only are we the first wave of God’s new creation, but as such, we are to be like God in his character and power.
Finally, this miracle in a plastic jar reminds me that as Jesus’ apprentices and God’s new creation we must, like my daughters, nurture the goodness that God formed into this present creation in anticipation of its ultimate renewal. In Christ, we have become God’s new creation living in this present creation. We are like seeds planted in rich soil. As we spend our lives putting on our new selves that are created to be like God, we will naturally touch the cosmos around us as we wait for the final transformation that is promised when Christ arrives.