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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Molt Down”

In this episode, Spike undergoes a bit of a transformation in which, after an assortment of uncomfortable and awkward physical problems, he molted to become a winged dragon. Getting there wasn’t an easy time. Not only did he suffer a large amount of physical stress through the process, he had to suffer from emotional and mental stress as well when he realized the scent he was giving off would attract all manner of violent beasts–making him a threat to others around him. In other words, the old adege of “change is painful” definitely held true here. The only way he could get the benefit of his new winged self was through a tremendous ordeal that left him discarding his outer skin in a gray pile on the ground.

While this change was physical and the situation was rather outlandish compared to real life, it does have some real implications for the idea of “change” and even Christianity.

It’s not unusual for people to use the term “shed my skin” when talking about going through a major change to their demeanor, outlook, or even personality. That ties into the same topic covered in this episode and in the world of biology: “molting”. In nature, many creatures that don’t periodically lose skin or hair (like we do) but instead shed it all at once go through the process of molting. Normally it’s associated with reaching a new life cycle or a time of growth, such as once a year when food is plentiful or scarce to allow it. There are a variety of kinds of actions that could be considered “molting”. The most extreme example could take place in butterflies. In their case, once the larva is large enough its skin will split and the “insides” will wriggle out as a new pupa. Yet those, in turn, will solidify and harden only to be split and discarded by its insides, which is a new adult butterfly. However, there’s much lesser examples, such as birds shedding their bright “breeding plumage” during the winter to look duller and harder for predators to find, deer shedding a thicker winter coat during the spring, or snakes, when big enough, going through the long process of rubbing against rocks to peel off their old skin.

Humans, in fact, do “molt” all the time, but it’s gradual and not dramatic. (We only shed hair and skin cells periodically rather that all in one go.) But whether it’s humans, birds, or caterpillars, the very idea of molting is an interesting concept. Essentially, animals must let their old bodies die, sometimes their old ways of life as well (such as how a caterpillar is concerned with eating and growing while a butterfly is concerned with breeding), in order to enter the next phase of life. When that happens, their old selves are literally cast off like so much rubbish.

That gets into today’s message. This central idea behind the process of molting is likewise true for Christianity and the idea of being “born again”.

Jesus emphasized the idea of being “born again from above” early in His ministry, and then (as it does now in some cases) it led to a great deal of confusion. As evidenced in his talk with Nicodemus, some people took it in the literal sense of the current physical body.

“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’ ‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!'” (John 3:3-4)

Jesus was, in fact, talking about the spiritual body. Sin is corrupting. It’s evil, it’s wicked, it brings pain, sadness, and sickness, and ultimately is brings death both physically and spiritually (Romans 6:23a). This nature of it caused some of the Apostles to term it “corruptibility” or perishability–an innate corruption in the body that is passed on and inherited from one generation to the next through all of humanity. The reason we die is because we sin, and sin is a part of mortal existence and inescapable as DNA. Part of the “broken” human condition and part of life.

When Jesus Christ came to the world, he came in a purely human body that was subject to all physical stresses, strains, toils, tears, and cares all people face; only in His case He endured it all but committed no sin. In doing so, He became the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. When He was unjustly put to death on Calvary, He paid the price for your sins, my sins, and everyone else’s past, present, and future. But to accomplish that, His own physical body was destroyed–taking on our nature that leads to inevitable death and destruction and suffering in full for all of the evils of the world simultaneously placed upon Him. However, because of His sinlessness, He was resurrected and came back to a new and glorious eternal life completely opposed to the rules and conditions of the previous body. All that was weak, mortal, and subjected to the pain, sadness, sickness, and death of this world was now liberated from it forever.

In the same way, Jesus has promised the same for all who accept His offer to take away their sins and become their personal Lord and Savior. Just as Jesus had a mortal body but His Spirit was from God and eternal, in the same way those that accept His Gift will cast off their own corrupted, perishable selves when their own physical suffering and death is at an end and will gain the same eternal life. And just as Jesus’ own mortal body passed away only to be resurrected in an incorruptible eternal life, the same will happen to all who put their faith in Him.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’

Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?'” (1 Corinthians 15:53-55)

There was a wonderful picture I had in college that sadly I ended up ruining illustrating this. It was a sculpture of an iron statute “shedding” off its iron coating to reveal one made of crystal beneath it. It’s a great metaphor. Iron tarnishes, rusts, erodes, and wears away, and in order to be cast aside it has to be rent and peeled off. Yet when it’s gone, all that’s left behind is beautiful and perfect. The old state crumbles away and the new life endures.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

If you would like to experience this “shedding of skin”, there is an excellent resource for how you can do it right now right here: https://www.thoughtco.com/a-prayer-of-salvation-701284

If you are already a Christian, here is today’s suggested prayer:

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, I can never thank you enough for the wonderful gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, by whose blood and sacrifice I am now a new creation set free from sin. Now that I have the blessed assurance that I have been born again, please help me to use my life always to seek your will and live for you today and every day. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”