Christ-like beauty

James 2:1-10, (11-13), 14-17

The Butterfly and the Spider – An adaptation of Aesop’s Fable

A butterfly and a spider were both in the same area of a forest, each going about their own business. The butterfly fluttered close to the spider, singing a song about how beautiful she was. The spider soon noticed the butterfly and said, “hello there!”

“Hi!” giggled the butterfly. “I am one of the most beautiful of all creatures, do you see my beauty?”

The spider responded, “Oh really? I am not able to see it from this angle. Would you like to come closer so that I may see what you are talking about, then I can judge whether you are really as beautiful as you say.”

The butterfly thought that it was odd that the spider with so many eyes could not see so well, but the butterfly could not let the opportunity pass, to show off her beauty. “Oh,” said the butterfly, “you will be surprised as soon as you are able to see all my colours and patterns.”

So, the butterfly merrily flew closer and closer to the spider, so close that it got into the spider’s home, that is, the web. The butterfly landed on the web and continued on and on about its beauty. As the butterfly boasted and flittered around proudly, the spider slowly crawled closer and closer to the butterfly, to ensure that his lunch could not get away. Suddenly, the spider leapt forward and trapped the butterfly in the web, wrapping it repeatedly with the sticky silky material that makes the web. Stuck and trapped, the butterfly could no longer speak, nor could it fly away.

Just before devouring the butterfly, the spider said, “my dear butterfly you may think you have a very beautiful appearance, but true beauty comes not from appearances but by faith, from our hearts, and by the good deeds that come from our faith. That is real beauty.”

A beautiful outer appearance is not always an indication of true inner Christ-like beauty.

In the letter of James found in the New Testament, I want to first highlight that this is not James who was once Jesus’ disciple but James who is the son of Mary. Yes! Jesus’ brother by the same mother. James wrote this letter to a wide Christian community highlighting his disappointment in their behaviour.

What was James’ disappointment? Well, he found that this community of Christians had a practice in which the wealthy were being welcomed with love while the poor were being ignored. Additionally, they believed all that was needed in life was to have faith in Jesus Christ and through this faith, all would be well. James was calling on them to take a common-sense approach to their faith, to not get complacent. “How can our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ be ok with you doing whatever you feel is right without considering the effect of your actions on and to others?” James proclaimed.

If an affluent gentleman enters your gathering wearing the finest clothes and priceless jewellery, don’t trip over each other trying to welcome him. And if a penniless… vagrant, “Oh, these seats are saved. Go over there,” then you’ll be judging God’s children out of evil motives…Mere talk never gets you very far, and a commitment to Jesus only in words will not save you.” [James 2:2-14. The Voice Translation].

James is reminding these Christians as well as Christians today, of their commitment; to each other, to Christ, and to the community through their action, ‘not a bag of mouth’.

In the adaptation of an Aesop fable, we see the butterfly in the story above, is so vain and so wrapped up in thinking only about itself and its beauty that it was unable to comprehend the danger that was about to take its life.  For us today, James is asking us to be wise and think about our faith and the behaviour that we must adopt to put our faith in action.

In our time today, many are using the argument of faith as an excuse not to be vaccinated, not caring about their actions and, how their actions will affect others in their families and the wider community. But by faith we are reminded that we are our brother’s keeper, that we should love one another as God has loved us. So, through that faith, it is our duty to get vaccinated to protect ourselves as well as to be our brothers’ keeper.

Let not the pandemic catch us and gobble us up and devour us like the spider. We all have a responsibility to live out our faith through our actions, therefore, out of concern for all our fellow citizens, let us do what we can to save lives, as this would demonstrate our love in Christ as we care for others.

Contributed by Rev Khan Honeyghan