"The Transformation of the Passionate Believer"

by Kathi Pelton

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5-6

There has been much talk about a transformation or metamorphosis occurring in the Body of Christ throughout the world. As I pondered what this transformation looks like, the verse in John 15:5-6 kept coming to my mind.

I know that God is drawing us into a deeper and truer intimacy and passion for Him. Abiding in this passionate relationship is bringing a restoration to true Christianity and Bridal intimacy.

During this journey of transition, a friend of our family told me the true story of the life of the "the passion vine butterfly."

Looking at the Life of the Passion Vine Butterfly

Here are the facts regarding this amazingly prophetic little insect:

Entomologists study insects. Etymologists say that the word "butterfly" was originally "flutter by," but over the centuries it metamorphosed into its current form. The butterfly was once called a "flutter by," because as any amateur entomologist will tell you, this is what butterflies do.

However, not all butterflies exhibit this in-flight behavior. The "Passion Vine Butterfly" (Heliconius), flies in a slow, serene, straight line. This butterfly is so named because of its special relationship with the plant called the "Passion Vine" (passiflora).

The Passion Vine produces a cyanide releasing chemical that makes it inedible to most insects. But the caterpillars of the Passion Vine Butterfly are able to process the chemical without harm and voraciously eat the leaves of the passion vine. Not only do the caterpillars suffer no ill effects, but they store the poison in their bodies, thus becoming inedible to birds of prey and other predators .

This protection is retained when they metamorphose into butterflies. Since the Passion Vine Butterfly is unpalatable to birds, it does not need to fly in a "rapid and erratic fashion to avoid being eaten." Instead, it slowly flies in a straight, purposeful path from flower to flower.

There are mimics of the Passion Vine Butterfly that, due to coloration and general body shape, look very much like the Passion Vine Butterfly. These look-alike butterflies do not have the protective toxin in their bodies and therefore can be eaten by the birds - though most birds leave them alone as they are "fooled" by the mimicry.

However, there is one tropical American bird, the jacamar (galbulidae), that is able to distinguish between the inedible passion vine butterfly and the tasty mimics. The jacamar sits up in a tree and observes how the butterflies fly. If the flight pattern is slow and straight, the jacamar knows that even though it would be easy to catch, it would have a bitter taste and be inedible. If the butterfly has the rapid, erratic, typical "flutter by" flight pattern exhibited by most butterflies, it knows that it is not a Passion Vine Butterfly despite the colorization, and it swoops down for a meal.

I believe that God is calling us to eat and drink of our "Passion Vine," Jesus Christ. We are to commune with Him and be partakers of His Blood and His body so that we might live. We are to feed upon the Bread of Life. We are to abide in Him, our Passion Vine, and as we abide in Him we will be like those caterpillars that can digest this "cyanide" and metamorphose into a butterfly that is not susceptible to the predator (the enemy) that would want to take our lives. We will also be distinguished by our "flight pattern"...rather than moving in a rapid (frantic) or erratic pattern, we will move in a serene, slow and straight pattern (the rest of the Lord).

The Passion of Christ

I found this story of a Jesuit priest in Peru during the 1600's who saw the Passion Vine and the Passion Vine Butterfly as a symbolic picture of the Passion of Christ. Here is what he wrote:

"The crown of thorns, the nails, the color of Jesus' robe, the whips for scourging, were all seen in the complex structure of the flower now known as the Passion Vine Flower. This plant contains cyanogenic glycosides which release the poison cyanide. When the caterpillar of the Passion Vine Butterfly eats the leaves of this poisonous plant, it then has the ability to form a cocoon and become a butterfly. So too, when we accept the work of Christ's Passion; when we 'eat His body and drink His Blood,' we have the ability to be transformed into a new creation.

"And just as the Passion Vine Butterfly takes a straight flight path as it need not fear predators, so too, we have 'Christ in us, the Hope of Glory' and are now able to walk the 'straight and narrow.' Indeed, if we try to walk in our own strength, we will only be 'faking it' and the mimicry will not fool the prowling lion who seeks one whom he may devour - just like the jacamar looks for the butterfly that can't fly straight.

"Entomologists say that the mimics of the Passion Vine Butterfly use about 20% more energy in flight than the ones they mimic. Are we weary? Let us return to the One who says that His yoke is easy and whose burden is light...light as a butterfly."

What a wonderful picture of our metamorphosis. Through the Blood and Body of our crucified Christ, we are a new creation that now can fly straight and slow...and serene, not fearing our predators that seek to devour us. We have taken the communion of the "passion vine," Jesus Christ, and now we can enter into His true rest.

To Know Christ Alone

"For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2 (Amplified Bible)

Recently, I was enjoying a conversation with a man that I highly respect. For years now I have watched in awe the journey of this man's life and witnessed his involvement in decisions that not only affect individuals but also nations; he is a man who moves straight and steady...always watching and waiting to see what the Father is doing. He has always had a deep intimacy with the Lord that causes him to "hit the mark" and to make wise decisions.

During our conversation, he began to tell me about the "plumb line" that he lives his life by. He said that each day (and in every circumstance and decision) he looks for the plumb line that Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "To know Christ alone, and Him crucified."

He proceeded to explain to me how he is always searching for where Christ is and what He is doing and then he aligns himself as closely as he can get to that. Christ alone (through the power of the Holy Spirit) is his compass, his delight, and the wisdom that he lives by.

As he spoke, I entered into a deeper understanding that I cannot put my confidence in any knowledge that I may have gained, nor anything that I have been acquainted with; but instead, I need to daily find where Jesus is in each moment and every decision and then get as close as I can to Him. To only do what I see my Father doing...because that is where Jesus will be.

But the verse goes on to say, "...and Him crucified." Through the Cross of Christ, we have been reconciled to God and filled with the Holy Spirit who will lead us, not with the wisdom of man, but instead with the wisdom that comes only from God alone. By the power given to us through our crucified Christ, our weakness and dependency on His Spirit becomes the threshold for many to be carried into salvation, truth and relationship with the invisible God. The Cross is the threshold that we crossed to obtain eternal life, and it is the power that comes from the Cross that enables us to walk in confidence...slow and steady and fruitful.

Dependency on the Vine

We know that Christ is the true Vine, and just as the Passion Vine Butterfly depends upon the chemical that comes from the passion vine to keep it from harm, so we need to continually depend upon and feed upon the fruit of our true Vine to keep us from harm.

Apart from the chemical imparted to the caterpillar (that will become the Passion Vine Butterfly), it is not protected from predators, but as it feeds upon this vine it is infused with a protection that allows it, after becoming a butterfly, to fly slow and straight. No longer does it need to flutter up and down, here and there, trying to escape the predator that seeks to take its life.

As we abide in Christ and seek to know Him, we are infused with His precious Spirit that allows us to fly slow and straight, because we know that even our greatest enemy will recognize His Spirit who is within us.

I have to admit that much of my Christian walk has been spent "fluttering" rather than flying straight. I have walked in too much fear of the "predator" who seeks to devour our lives; forgetting that I have been infused with the Holy Spirit who is also like cyanide to the enemy. Our authority to fly slow and straight comes from the power of the Cross...from our Savior and Friend, the crucified Christ. As we remain in Him and go only where He is going and do only what He is doing, we will be kept from the "fearful fluttering" that attracts our predator's attention.

Ask the Lord to give you the confidence that the Passion Vine Butterfly moves in. We no longer want to live our lives "fluttering" in fear, but instead we want to live and move slow and steady, knowing that His Spirit is our shield and rampart. We want to abide in and near the Vine to keep our lives filled with His Spirit. If we are truly spiritual "Passion Vine Butterflies," then why do we fly as if we are imposters? Only the mimics have to flutter because they are not filled with the true chemical that makes them inedible to their predators.

A New Level of Surrender

"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'"
Isaiah 55:8-9

Since the very beginning of 2008, I have personally felt as though I was in a refiner's fire where all the "precious" in my life is being purified and all the worthless is being burned away. The interesting thing is that much of what I thought was precious has been burned away as worthless. Many things: thoughts, beliefs and even personal convictions, God has burned away because they had become "laws written in stone" by me rather than by the wisdom of His Spirit.

I have been challenged again and again to walk in every circumstance by the leading of His Spirit of grace rather than by what knowledge I have gained through past life experiences...making laws from past successes.

There is a spirit of surrender coming upon many that is causing them to allow the Holy Spirit to rid them of all of their own ways...even things that seemed good. I believe it is the making of the new wineskin so that the new wine will not be spilled out as God pours it forth. We have seen that God is pouring forth new wine, but it cannot be contained in old wineskins.

In God's mercy, He is exposing all that would cause a bursting and spilling of His new wine. Though some exposures are quite high profile, I believe that all of God's people are going through personal exposures of the areas in their lives that have become brittle and old...or where we have strayed from abiding in the true Vine. Remember as we pray for one another that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. We pray for grace for those that have fallen and for our own fallen places.

"God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God's wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:20-21

God is removing the stumbling blocks that are in the way of His Kingdom being established. He has called us to prepare the way for a great harvest and for His Kingdom coming to earth. He is preparing the way for the fullness of the Gentiles and the opening of the eyes of the Jews.

God longs to restore those who are bruised with sorrow for their sin. This is a time to pray for true repentance within all of the Body of Christ...for all of our wanderings and for all the areas that we have strayed from the purity of knowing Christ alone, and Him crucified. Let's look at Isaiah 57:14-19 from the Amplified Bible:

"And the word of One shall go forth, 'Cast up, cast up, prepare the way! Take up the stumbling block out of the way [of the spiritual return] of My people.'

"For thus says the high and lofty One - He Who inhabits eternity, Whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, but with him also who is of a thoroughly penitent and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the thoroughly penitent [bruised with sorrow for sin].

"'For I will not contend forever, neither will I be angry always, for [if I did stay angry] the spirit [of man] would faint and be consumed before Me, and [My purpose in] creating the souls of men would be frustrated.

"'Because of the iniquity of his [Judah's] covetousness and unjust gain I was angry and smote him. I hid My face and was angry, and he went on turning away and backsliding in the way of his [own willful] heart.

"'I have seen his [willful] ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him also and will recompense him and restore comfort to him and to those who mourn for him.

"Peace, peace, to him who is far off [both Jew and Gentile] and to him who is near!' says the Lord; 'I create the fruit of his lips, and I will heal him [make his lips blossom anew with speech in thankful praise].'"

These verses are of great comfort to many of God's people in this hour. This is His promise of healing for not only the one who falls, but also for all those who mourn due to his fallings. We are learning as a people to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn. If we are one in the Spirit, then when one falls we all must own it and come to a place of corporate repentance. And when one is restored we can all rejoice in a corporate celebration.

God is calling us to abide in Him (the True Vine) and to drink of Him so that we might be those who fly slow and straight. No more fluttering, no more mimicking, no more fearful or frantic behaviors. It is a time of surrendering to the grace of His discipline and His transformation.

Will we allow Him to create in His Church the new wineskin that will hold the new wine? My white flag of surrender is raised and I want to go and drink from our Passion Vine.