I was lucky enough to attend the Thirsty ’06 conference for college ministry leaders last week at North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. One of things that struck me about the conference is that it was not about ministry. Sure, there were a few breakout session geared towards helping people develop leaders and start ministering towards the collegiate generation, but the point of Thirsty was to gather college leaders and encourage them to live for the glory and renown of Christ, so that any ministry they are involved in is simply an outpouring of their worship and pursuance of Christ.
A week later, I am still digesting the depths of what I learned, but two metaphors discussed at the conference have been on my mind since then, and I am still working out a response to them. I thought that writing about them would help me process a bit more…
A total eclipse of the sun is an incredible thing. The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, and the sun is 400 times further away from the earth than the moon is. This means that when the alignment is correct, the moon will completely block out the sun. By blocking out the brightness of the sun, a total eclipse allows the sun’s outer edge, the corona, to be brilliantly displayed. During a total eclipse, the sun’s “coronal green line” also can also be seen. In contrast to the vivid orange and yellow’s typically associated with the sun, the eclipse brings out the intense green emitted from the corona that is otherwise absorbed by the dominant colors. (Louie Giglio)
Francis Chan, a pastor and church planter from California, gave a great metaphor involving the caterpillar/butterfly metamorphosis. Imagine that you are a caterpillar. One day you go to sleep and wake up as a butterfly. Apparently, while the caterpillar is undergoing the metamorphosis into a butterfly, the caterpillar’s waste is used in the formation of the butterfly’s wings. So in a sense, Francis noted that the crap from a former life is used for the glory of the next. Hmm…
After talking about how crazy it must be to wake up a butterfly after living a life as a caterpillar, Francis asked an amazing question. “You know what’s really crazy though, is when a butterfly, or a group of butterflies all gather together, and they just stay on the ground and roll around in the dirt, getting their wings all dirty and trying to crawl around. Have you guys seen that? Isn’t that crazy?”
The crowd was looking around kind of confused. Apparently, none of us had witnessed this phenomenon before.
Francis paused for a moment, and then said “You probably haven’t seen it because it doesn’t happen. Once caterpillars turn into butterflies they don’t act like they did when they were caterpillars. They use their wings. They fly.”
Sitting in the audience, I was like…woah.
This is the point when a big neon sign starts flashing in my head…think about your walk with Christ. Ding Ding Ding.
So since then, I’ve been thinking about what it means to follow Christ. If we say we believe that in any sense of the term, we are new creatures after justification / sanctification / regeneration / election / [insert your favorite theological term here]…do we actually believe it?
As Dallas Willard puts it…to believe in something is to act as if it is so. Do we act as if it is true?
I know that personally I act more like a “caterpillar Christian” than a “Butterfly Christian.” And honestly, I struggle with trying to figure out tangible steps that I can take to actually make use of my “wings” instead of continuing to roll around on the ground.
And when I start to think about that, I often go back to Louie Giglio’s total eclipse metaphor. What are we supposed to look like? Maybe the question should not be, “what do I look like after Christ redeems/saves/rescues/etc. me?” but “How much of Christ do people see when they look at me?” The beautiful green coronal line only shows when the sun is completely blotted out by the moon. Similarly, maybe it is only when the old self is completely covered by the new self that the beautiful power of Christ can be seen by the world.
So that’s one of the many questions/concepts that I’ve been pondering in the last week…who knows if I’m even asking the right questions?
But the frustrations of unanswered questions excite me…challenge me…stretch me…