I am a terrible artist. About the best I can do is manage a stick figure. But I know artists. In fact, I even live with one. She is able to see things in her minds eye before they actually come into being. She draws. She paints. She creates. With each stroke of her brush, something new emerges. Somehow she is able to “see” how all the different brush strokes come together to make a painting that is beautiful.
Legend has it that the brilliant Renaissance artist Michelangelo was once asked about how difficult it must have been to have sculpted his famous “David.” His response? “Actually, it’s easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn’t look like David.” Somehow he was able to look at a block of marble and “see” David.
The greatest artist of course is God. The Bible declares that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Before time and space. Before anything was made that was made. Before there was matter or molecules. There was God. And somehow He was able to “see” into all that nothingness. Look into the void. And imagine the world that we now live in. He spoke and it came into existence. The mountains. The streams. The trees. The wildflowers. The birds. Fish. Animals. Each according to its kind. Each beautiful in its own way.
And then God went to work on His masterpiece. A creature who would bear His own image. His own likeness. God reached down into the dust of the earth He had made and began to fashion this creature. Made him male and female and set this creature over all He had made. Part of God’s master design for this creature was to give it the freedom to choose. The freedom to follow. The freedom to love. And sadly the creature abused this freedom. Like “David” slipping off the workbench and walking out of the studio, this creature went it’s own way. Becoming defaced. Deformed. Broken. God’s original image lost amidst the grime and dirt.
Just as Michelangelo would never let his David escape, so it is with God. He will not rest until His masterpiece is restored. So He pursued the creature. Showed grace and mercy to the creature. Repairing the dents and dings and shattered pieces along the way. Gathering up the broken pieces of the creature’s life in order to restore it to it’s original glory and purpose. Re-shaping and re-forming and re-fashioning the creature until he/she resembles the masterpiece God originally created he/she to be.
Where does this restoration work primarily take place? In God’s studio. Where does God’s studio exist? In the local church. The tools God uses? The people around us. Our brothers and sisters in Christ. The family God has chosen for us. As we relate to one another. Share with one another. Confess to one another. Walk with one another. Challenge one another. Confront one another. Forgive one another. We are being made into the image of Christ. He is the template. He is the pattern. He is the design.
This work is not easy. God is meticulous. He wants to make sure every part of us fits together according to His master plan. Just like any master artist, He pays attention to the smallest detail. Refusing to tolerate even the littlest mistake. Refusing to put up with the tiniest flaw and imperfection. When God looks at you. When God looks at me. He sees Christ. And what He’s doing over the course of our lives is chipping away at anything and everything that doesn’t look like Him. And God is faithful. He will not leave His work unfinished. He will not rest until His masterpiece is complete.