What a beautiful miracle, the caterpillar turning into the butterfly! I can’t think of anything else in creation that is such an amazing depiction of our transformation in Christ. This transformation is epic at its inception but it’s also continual. We are transferred from darkness to light but then we begin the journey of discovering who Jesus is and through that who we are in Christ. As we continue our journey in 2 Peter 1:5-8 we see a growth and transformation of our character. Here’s what it says in the Amplified translation:
2 Peter 1:5-8 (AMP) – For this very reason, [a]adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in [b]exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence), And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety), And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love. For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [[c]full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Peter lays out for us an ascending journey that started out with our Father bestowing upon us His peace that provided everything we need to live the life we’ve been called to. Then Peter let’s us know that we also have access to our Father’s exceedingly precious promises that allow us to escape the moral decay of this world and become partakers of His divine nature. Now, in these next verses we see that as we take Peter’s charge to employ our every effort in exercising our faith to develop in our character that we will grow into the full personal knowledge of Jesus. It’s a very interesting progression and one I’ve spent time meditating on for the last several weeks, and will continue as I look to take advantage of God’s promises here.
Peter outlines for us that we first seek to develop virtue, also translated excellence. We should each pray and study these traits but I take it to mean being excellent in living out my Christianity. To do what I do for God with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength (Matt. 22:37). As I go forward in living out my life in excellent pursuit of my faith then knowledge grows. It stands to reason that if I’m going to be excellent in my walk with Christ that I will have to study His word which will surely increase my knowledge and confidence in those very words. As I excel in these areas I then pursue self-control which means that more and more I am choosing to do the good of the Word vs. the leading of my flesh. As self-control continues to grow through my continued pursuit of the Word, and in John 1:1 it says that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us in his opening about Jesus, so as we pursue the Word we are actually growing also on the inside where we have Jesus abiding in us and that self-control is empowered by that growth which leads to the steadfastness, the not letting go of what the Word says even when it seems like everything around us is telling us what we believe isn’t true. Out of that steadfastness grows the godliness which is what others see in us when we are going through trials. It’s that peace you’ve seen on the mother who lost her child but her faith is not shaken and she knows that despite the circumstances that her Abba loves her and her child. That godliness continues to grow and develops brotherly affection, that desire to commune with our brothers and sisters in Christ and brotherly affection matures into Christian love, a love that is so great that we would certainly lay down our life for that of another (John 15:13 -Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends).
Just like the process of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly is completely transformational and takes place step by important step, so is our growth as a daughter of our Father. I keep phrasing this as a journey because this is something that happens day by day over weeks, months and years…a lifetime. While what Peter outlines for us encompasses a few sentences, the actuality of the transformation is the course of a lifetime. As we talked about in a previous post, when Peter wrote this he only had a short time left here on earth. He knew his time was short and the message he gave us was from one who had seen all the cycles we humans go through including the setbacks, the mistakes and the dusting off again and forging forward. Here’s the thing, if we don’t begin, we’ll never finish and it’s important that we understand the path that is before us and the most amazing news is that Jesus has already completed the work! The path that is before us is us walking out what Jesus did that we could not have done on our own. This is why Peter starts out with the fact that we have bestowed upon us God’s peace, why he makes sure we understand that we have been given His precious promises so that we are clear that the way has been paved, the markers have been set and the Holy Spirit, our teacher and comforter, is there to walk alongside us. How we know where we are on the journey is by the accomplishment of growth and maturity in this walk and the decision to forgo unfruitfulness and instead pursue a full personal knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord. It’s exciting that it’s not some abstract pursuit, instead we can clearly see the path and the tools for the journey, all we have to do is choose to go.
That is what I have determined that I will do. I am going and although I know I will probably get distracted along the way and wander off course here and there. I will also probably end up camping out for an inordinately long time at some of the milestones, but regardless of those things, I also know that my Heavenly Father is pleased with me, He is excited about my quest and He’s not in a hurry to push me to the end because He knows that while the destination is an unimaginable glory, so too is the journey to that destination. The process of transformation is as amazing as when I get to spread my wings and take my first flight as a fully formed butterfly!
A Daughter’s Prayer – My God is not sitting up in heaven wringing His hands over what is happening here on earth. His head is not hung in disappointment. He is celebrating Jesus’ victory, our victory! He knows the battle is over; He knows everything that needed to be done has been done and Jesus did it all, paid it all and we are coming to Him. We are the righteousness of God in Christ and what was lost has been found and there is rejoicing.
Turn my eyes upon Jesus, look full into His wonderful face. The things of earth become strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace! We are the light of the world, a lamp set on a hill. Holy One make me that beacon, that through you people will find a safe haven, a place of rest, healing and restoration because that is what You are and what You have accomplished. You came to heal the brokenhearted, preach the good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, recover sight for the blind, set at liberty the oppressed and proclaim the year of the Lord (the day salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound)! I am in Him, I have His liberty, I have the good news and I have my Abba’s salvation, and His abundance of free favors.
I choose to live in celebration! I choose to walk away from being cast down and live like no one else because Jesus lived like no one else so I can live a life of celebration of Him and who I am as my Abba’s daughter. Here is the blindness that I have had, that I still had things to be afraid of. That the forms of death, moral decay and agitating passions were a part of my life here on this earth. I was blind to the fact that my Abba has bestowed upon me perfect well being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity and I am free from those fears. I have been liberated, set free and I choose to live a life of celebration! Holy Spirit, help me to see my path, my journey as my Abba’s daughter. To fulfill my great commission each and every day. In Jesus’ holy name, amen.