Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part IX
An infestation of caterpillars, multi-segmented, squishy-bodied, ravenous eaters who move in cumbersome, accordion-like fashions can kill foliage. Incredibly, they spin cocoons, havens of transitions, and emerge as a butterfly! I am not sure what happens in that cocoon, but metamorphosis transforms a caterpillar into a different bodied structure suitable for flying.
Two thousand years later, the church has become a multi-segmented body of hundreds of different sects and denominations that have become an infestation. If the Lord is to return to a Church without spot and wrinkle, a reconstruction is necessary if it is to fulfill its purpose of John 17, “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.” The Church will have to trust the Holy Spirit and embrace new mindsets.
Because the transformation in a cocoon is relational, everything will have to be taken back to the Cross. The Cross is a painful place, so transformation will not come without pain. Through the Cross the Holy Spirit is teaching Christians how to “engage” with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through righteousness (John 3:16), and how to “engage” with one another relationally (I John 3:16) by “laying down your life for your brethren.”
Three stages make up the metamorphic cocoon process: the caterpillar stage, the engagement period, and the butterfly stage. To see how this works, let’s take the caterpillar church mentality of “You Must Believe And Behave In Order To Belong.” To become a member of most local churches, you must sign a statement agreeing with their professions of faith, theological beliefs, church bi-laws and behave like a Christian and fit in to church culture to be accepted as an official member by church leadership.
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” challenges that concept. Before we even had a relationship with Jesus, he accepted us and paid the price for our sins on the Cross. As fallen man, we can be redeemed through Jesus, reinstating a right relationship with the Father. I John 3:16 states, . “We know love by this, that He (Jesus) laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” We are now called to lay down our lives for others. That is a new mindset because we have not thought of that relationally. Jesus never accepted sin, yet he died for the sinner. Jesus accepts mankind in both his fallen and redeemed state; it is man’s decision to accept being in a right relationship with the Godhead and his fellow man!
To understand the butterfly stage, you have to understand the social networking generational mindset of “acceptance”. To become a Facebook friend, you need only to push the “accept” button. This opens the door for further communications, which leads to sharing, accepting, or rejecting each other’s belief systems. Rather than behaving to be accepted, accepting Jesus will bring a supernatural change in a person that naturally happens. In the butterfly stage, “Belonging Begins A Relationship That Produces Believing And Behaving,” which is completely opposite of the way the church currently thinks.
In the dating game, boy asks girl for a date (Caterpillar Stage). She accepts. They begin building a relationship and trust while discussing their belief, goals, and dreams. They get “serious” about their relationship (Engagement Period). After working through tough issues, final acceptance comes in a life commitment of marriage, now belonging to one another (Butterfly Stage).
What transition (Engagement Stage) is needed to change mindsets towards acceptance instead of judgment, tolerance rather than being demanding, be relational rather than structural, being an organism rather than an organization? These transitions are not easy. These transitions will not come without pain, anguish, and self-searching. They can only come if we are willing to ask the tough questions without being offended or defensive and seek those answers through relationships through the Cross.