Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo once said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo’s best-known sculpture is the 14ft youthful David carved from marble. The interesting thing is that one sculptor started the project, made a little progress, but stopped for unknown reasons. Ten years later another sculptor was commissioned to complete the work but stopped soon after he started. The block of marble that held David lay exposed to the weather for another 25 years before a 26-year-old Michelangelo convinced the officials in charge to give him the commission. The completed statue was unveiled two years later. Michelangelo also observed, “The more the marble wastes, the more the statue grows.” As the sculptor chisels away at what doesn’t belong the real image bound in the stone is revealed.
Michelangelo isn’t the only sculptor. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT) Ephesus was the center of worship to the goddess Artemis. It was there that Paul encountered stiff resistance from a craftsman of silver statuettes dedicated to the goddess. Isn’t it interesting that Paul encourages his readers by recognizing God’s workmanship and craftsmanship of their new lives in Christ? Similarly, Paul wrote to the Philippians, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6, NLT) Both verses contain the thought of a completed beginning continuing towards a completed finale.
Think about the human experience of conception, birth, and maturity. We all begin life complete. All of the patterns of life are contained in a single cell. Who we are doesn’t change during our journey from conception to death. Yet, our features, our understanding, and our experiences constantly change and grow as we walk the path of life. We are complete at conception, we are completed the day Christ Jesus returns.
We live in the middle part. These are the days when Jesus our master sculptor chisels away from our lives all that does not belong. Taking away layer after layer of sin, self, pride, and shame. Brushing away the dust of smashed idols that we thought were so important. Breaking away the fear that prevents us from walking in faith. Polishing our character until He can see himself. Sometimes though we pick up the chisel, or worse yet the superglue, and try to “fix” what Jesus is doing. “Jesus can’t mean to take that away, it must have been a mistake. I’ll just fix this little bit.” Oops. Sometimes we give the chisel to others, wanting to be like them or to not be like them. We try to live to someone else’s standard instead of Jesus’ because it seems easier or more attractive. But Jesus is a patient sculptor and continues to work even as we try to take control.
There is no doubt about it, Jesus will complete what He has started in each of us. Sometimes we get hung up on the “should have been”. Sometimes the image in our mind doesn’t match what Christ envisions. The question for today is not what the final masterpiece will look like but what part Jesus is working on right now. What does He desire to chisel away today? What idols are being crushed and brushed away right now? What fear is He breaking off at this moment in time? Remember what Michelangelo said, “The more the marble wastes, the more the statue grows.” Jesus is chiseling on something right now, let Him!