We Will All Laugh
at Gilded ButterfliesThis phrase from Shakesphere’s (I am a fan.) King Lear is a wonderful observation that can have many applications. He said this referring to his two treacherous daughters who sought to add to their own fortune by stealing his. A butterfly is a beautiful insect, and the word “gilded” indicates having an additional and unnecessary and even overdone application of gold or silver or some other attempt at beautification that makes its appearance rather gaudy. So rather than enhance its beauty, the gilding in effect renders it excessive and ostentatious.
So a monarch butterfly soars in its natural beauty. But if it were to be gilded by the hands of man, it would not only lose the majesty of its original beauty, but it would also lose its ability to fly. So in effect, the gilding would not only make that butterfly pretentious and inappropriate, but the gilding would prevent the butterfly from flight. In fact, the gilding would kill it.
I would like to make a gospel application to the phrase and its meaning. The gospel itself soars with majesty and power simply based upon the strength of its truth and its Author. It is profound in its spiritual content yet simple in its narrative. And after a while, this simple narrative becomes unappealing to the mind of fallen man. And yet the craftiness of this fallen mind does not just reject the gospel outright; it seeks to alter it in ways that seem more intellectual and more compassionate and more beautiful.
Men continue to guild the gospel with all sorts of things derived from their own imaginations. And in a daring display of hubris and vain imagination, men guild the perfect Son of God with the works of their own hands. There are several things about Calvinism that I admire even though I am decidedly not a Calvinist myself. I admire the way the reformed crowd generally and emphatically deny that men’s works have any part of salvation and that God alone must be given all the glory.
To add to or subtract from the perfect Son of God is not only dangerous, it is spiritual treason. This is no game of show and tell, this has eternal implications. The Crucified and Risen Christ needs no enhancement from the fallen creativity and self righteous contrivances of men. And when men gild the Savior with human works it not only diminishes His very being, but it renders His redemptive power as useless and without the grace necessary to save.
Just as a gilded butterfly becomes a prisoner to its artificial clothing, so do any and all projections of the Christ that have the weight of Adam’s nature as an ingredient, regardless of how polished and religious. The gilded Christ is no Christ at all, but they are all nothing more than New Testament golden calves which cannot hear, cannot speak, and cannot save. The gospel message is not only superior to all other spiritual messages, it is exclusively superior. All other messages regardless of how intellectual, how compassionate, how inclusive, or how melodic to the soul are nothing more than imposters and counterfeits that sing as the sirens of darkness.
The colossal nature of the gospel is contained in its childlike simplicity. The august brilliance of Christ’s gospel is the love that constrained Him to bow an immeasurable distance in order to rescue those who were His very enemies. That is the unfathomable depth of the simplicity that is found in Christ. Ungilded and unvarnished, the gospel message contains the redemptive power of the Creator. To add frills is to openly deny its completeness, and like sweet poison it is palatable to the flesh but death to all who partake.
Never be ashamed of the simple gospel. Never be ashamed of Bethlehem’s stable, or the dust of Nazareth, or the submission of Jordan’s baptism. Do not be ashamed of the rejection of His countrymen, or the denial of His own disciples, or the heartbreak of Gethsemane, or the chains of wicked men. Embrace the shame of the mocking of Herod, and the washing of Pilate’s hands, and the call for His murder. Wear the badge of His scourging, present your face and receive the spittle that dripped down His face, let His thorns wound your own head, and after you have clutched them all to your own bosom, privately and publicly, there is but one last thing you must do.
Espouse the cross.
Do not just identify with it doctrinally or emotionally.
Seek it, desire it, and die.