Discussing the lockdown temptation towards spiritual complacency, a friend spoke of the dangers of a “cocoon of convenience.” That’s a helpful phrase.
A cocoon is God’s marvellous design to guard the process of transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly. This amazing sheath provides a temporary protection against threats to what, in the end, will be a wondrous metamorphic outcome. But cocoons, by their nature, are not meant to be permanent. If the butterfly does not make its necessary exit, it will die. The cocoon, which is intended to be a temporary room, can become a coffin. Similarly, I am concerned that the convenience of our cocoon during lockdown might become a spiritual and relational coffin. We need to be aware.
Like a cocoon, lockdown is for our protection. Also like a cocoon, lockdown inhibits our interaction with the outside world. This can conveniently serve us as we learn to wean ourselves from unhealthy influences. But such convenience can also be a hinderance to our welfare as we miss out on face-to-face interaction with fellow church members, including sometimes-difficult church members. This might seem like a convenience, but it might also turn our cocoon into a coffin.
The convenience of a livestreamed sermon in the comfort of our home, along with a less busy Lord’s Day, may seem, well, convenient. There is no Family Bible Hour, and after roughly seventy minutes, the morning “service” is over and the day is ours. At 5:30 PM, we hear a shorter exposition, but without our regular time of congregational prayer. Lockdown is saving the average church member several hours each Sunday. But extra time is not our only convenience. What about, for instance, the convenience of avoiding those troublesome church members? You know, those who rub us the wrong way, who can be an annoyance, and against whom we might have a grudge. And what about those church members who are needy? Though our cocoon at times feels a bit restrictive, nevertheless, at least we are shielded from congregational discomforts associated with relationships.
However, we need to prepare. One day, the cocoon will open. What will emerge?
This unique time is going to reveal our commitment to local church body life, perhaps as never before. Will we come forth with deep commitment to our local church, or will this introvert’s dream further distance us from involving ourselves with our body of Christ? A solution to our cocoon becoming a coffin is to do the hard work—now—of creatively “one anothering” each other. Let me suggest some practical ways.
We should be phoning one another, praying for one another, forgiving one another, and, where possible, practically caring for one another. We must do the hard work of encouraging one another and, when necessary, admonishing one another. Out of sight must not be allowed to downgrade to out of mind or out of “heart.” Was God preparing us for this in our recent “one another” preaching series?
Being “cocooned” is a great opportunity for us to eventually emerge with more of the beauty of Jesus. We have the opportunity for meaningful self-examination, followed by repentance and resolve to apply practical remedies for change. But, negatively, this also provides an opportunity to become dangerously comfortable in our cocoon, giving little thought to what is happening in the world outside of us, including the world of our fellow church members. If we cave to this, our cocoons will become coffins. And not only will we suffer, but so will our fellow caterpillars who need our help in their transformation.
Perhaps today provides the opportunity for you to reach out to others, to send a message of encouragement, or to offer up prayers for church members. Whatever godly means you utilise, may our Saviour use them to keep your cocoon from becoming a spiritual and relational coffin.
Longing to break free, and to be beautiful with you,