We are God’s Masterpiece…

Masterpiece Image

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do good things he planned for us long ago.”

Ephesians 2:10

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, a masterpiece is a work done with extraordinary skill; especially: a supreme intellectual or artistic achievement

Extraordinary, defined by the same source is defined as going beyond what is usual, regular or customary—exceptional to a very marked extent.

With that clarified understanding of what those words mean, it is safe to say that an extremely skilled person, or prodigy would be necessary in the completion of a masterpiece of any variety.

When reflecting on the magnitude of the word masterpiece, a very well known artist popped into my mind. Honestly, it is not fair to limit this man to the title of just artist. He was also a painter, sculptor, architect and poet with a considerable amount of renown. This man was the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance; this man was Michelangelo.

Michelangelo, was a the most gifted and sought after artist in Europe at that time, so much so that Pope Julius II commissioned him to come repair and beautify the Sistine Chapel that was beginning to diminish. However, Michelangelo was very reluctant, as painting was not his medium of choice and he feared that this daunting task would not produce his greatest work.

Reluctantly, Michelangelo got started on his task of renewing and beautifying, the already standing Sistine Chapel. The method of choice that Michelangelo chose to paint the masterpiece with is the art of fresco, which is much more challenging than simply painting an image on a surface. The technique of painting a fresco requires one to paint on a plaster surface that is not completely dry so that the pigment can penetrate the surface, this is accomplished by adding a thin layer of fine plaster to the wall in question. This method is advantageous to fresco painters because it allows for mistakes to be corrected and for colors to be more stable.

When Michelangelo began to work on the 4-year-long endeavor, he hadn’t imagined some of the problems that he would run into, one of which that could create major drawbacks in his progress with the completion of the chapel. While working the very detailed fresco method, Michelangelo hit a roadblock, that looked like it may have stopped success altogether. He was working on one of the largest multi-figure compositions of the entire ceiling when the plaster itself became infected by a kind of lime mold, which is like a bloom of fungus. So he had to chip the whole thing back to nothing and start over again.

Despite the fact that Michelangelo had some structural difficulties while he was working on the Sistine Chapel, and it took him quite some time to complete, he endured and kept working because he believed that in the end the finished product would be beautiful.

The Michelangelo illustration is a good analogy of the way the Lord works in Christian lives. When seeking the Lord, we bring our broken spirits that are shattered and are in need of repair and beautification. The Lord is the one true sculptor that can take lackluster materials and repurpose them into something beautiful and worthy of being used for his kingdom.

Many of us are like that old chapel, in need of renewal and beautification, and we don’t know where to turn to get what it is that we need that will fulfill us and make us new. Often time people turn to the family, friends, self-help books, or seek escape from their lives in drugs or alcohol or some other unhealthy distraction. These methods are all temporary fixes to major troubles. What we may fail to realize is that in the same way that the beautification and restoration of the chapel required a skilled hand to make it a masterpiece, we too require the skilled hand of the Master to make us His masterpiece.

Sometimes our circumstances can leave us feeling old and dilapidated, and a flat out mess incapable of being repaired, let alone a masterpiece designed by our Creator. But, God’s word tells us over and over again, that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). So it is up to us to trust and believe that God has transformed and created us anew and that he will be constantly renewing our thinking, attitudes, and behaviors to reflect His work (Ephesians 4:23-24).

The truth is that while we are going through the renewing and beautification process, it may not always feel good, and it may feel like it’s taking too long. But we have to remember that a masterpiece is not created overnight and that sometimes beauty is pain. In Hebrews 12: 7-12, we learn that we must endure hardship and discipline, because God disciplines those he loves and that it’s ultimately for our good and so that we can share in his holiness. It takes the skilled hand of the Master to know and execute the exact changes that need to take place in us to make us beautiful vessels that are fit for his use (2 Timothy 2:21). Discipline may not always feel good, but it builds in us better character and makes us more Christ-like, and honestly, what can be considered more deserving of the title “masterpiece” than that?