If you’ve ever seen the split brown husks abandoned by adult cicadas during their transformation to their adult stage and also seen their adult form, you know it’s quite a change. Last Lord’s Day, for the first time ever, I witnessed the phenomenon.
On the side of our ornamental peach tree, the wad of green I saw turned out to be a cicada that had just emerged from the shell of its former self. Its tail was scrunched in, and the lower three-fourths of its wings were still tightly curled into a loosening ball.
In less than an hour, its new form was complete even though the shift in color was still in process. Black eyes stuck out starkly on the opposite sides of its large, flat head and the core of its abdomen had darkened considerably. At this point, its fully extended wings glowed luminously in reflected light. An aqua green near its head shifted to a translucent blue toward the lower ends of its wings. I could see clear through the wings, except for the veins. Mysterious, other-worldly, and beautiful.
Unlike the wonderous and spell-binding change of the cicada’s morphing, our transformation into the nature and image of Christ may span an entire life. Continuing to grow in the Spirit, constantly being made new in our thinking, adopting the complete persona of the Lord, may very well take decades. It is a work, the tentmaker tells us (Philippians 1:6), that the Lord will continue until the day of his returning.
But there are still changes that take place rather quickly, no less stunning and dramatic than the change of the cicada. Leaving behind the dry, dead husk of the former self, we are changed into creatures of light as we abandon sin, turn from evil, and choose righteousness. Putting to death the old self and life of sin, we turn toward faith, hope and love. Walking in step with the Spirit, we began to bear right quickly the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Such changes in those whose former way of life was steeped in hatred, bitterness, wrath, indignation, cruelty, stinginess, lust, harshness, and indulgent lusts, are even more marvelous than the luminous transformation of the cicada.
Such is the work that the Lord’s grace has done—and is doing—in us.