Sermon Illustrations

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom 12:2, NIV).

The word we translate "transformed" is metamorfousthe. Does that sound familiar?

We are familiar with metamorphosis in biology. Physical life forms transform. The larva (caterpillar) enters the pupa (cocoon) stage, then becomes an adult (butterfly). An egg grows into a tadpole that lives only in water, breathes with gills and has a tail. Soon it grows lungs and legs. The gills and tail are absorbed into the body and you have a frog.

Metamorphisis also appears in mythology as humans are said to have become other creatures. For example, Pleiades, the seven daughters of Atlas were attendants of Artemis the goddess of wildlife and hunting. They were pursued by Orion the hunter and rescued by the gods who transformed them into doves. After death, they were transformed by Zeus into a group of stars in the constellation Taurus. They were said to be forever pursued across sky by the Orion constellation.

But we need to understand metamorphosis in theology. It is the word translated “transfigured” in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2. “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light” (Matt 17:2, NIV).

The word also appears in 2 Cor 3:18 where it’s translated “transformed”. That verse says, “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit (NIV).

Butterflies and frogs have no choice. Metamorphosis is built into their DNA. But spiritual metamorphosis isn’t automatic. It doesn’t just happen to us. It is the result of cooperation and conformity with God’s Spirit working in us.