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Michelangelo, a Chisel, and Sanctification

I remember taking a class in high school called Humanities. It was essentially an art appreciation class. It was really the first opportunity I had to learn about some of the great artists of history, including Michelangelo.

Michelangelo is known for some pretty amazing pieces of artwork. The ceiling fresco painting of the Sistine Chapel is a panorama of incredible artwork, for instance. But it is his marble statues that are especially fascinating for me. Perhaps the piece that stands out the most is his Pieta, which is a large marble statue depicting Mary sitting down with the dead body of Jesus lying across her lap. The detail and emotion of the piece is stunning to behold.

It is believed that Michelangelo said of his sculptures, "The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material."

I remember when I first heard of that statement in high school, I was amazed. But it has not been until recently that I have thought of this notion in relationship to our spiritual lives as Christians.

Michelangelo did incredible things with a chisel and marble blocks. He was able to produce beautiful and incredible pieces of artwork, even with his finite, limited body and mind. How much more is our infinite and wise God able to do with us? God's work of sanctification may be (loosely) likened to his chiseling away all of the superfluous pieces of things that do not belong in our lives in his process of fashioning us into the likeness of Jesus Christ, who is in us as believers.

Yet how often do we, the "marble block," buckle and bristle at what God is seeking to remove? Are we allowing God to accomplish what he began in us? Are we humbling ourselves under his mighty hand?

"Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

What is it that God needs to chisel away from your life? He is the Master; we are the marble. God's work is far superior to that of any human artist. He seeks to make us into the beautiful image of Jesus Christ. Let him chisel away at your life in this fashion, all for his glory.

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