29 12 2011

In a letter from 1549, Michelangelo defined sculpture as the art of “taking away” and not that of “adding on”. Many of his unfinished statues clearly show this process of taking away, or carving, as he laboured to ‘’free’’ the figure born in his mind from the confines of the marble block.

Michelangelo once stated that the key to sculpture was, “to release the sculpture which has been hidden within the stone.” He believed that every stone contained a sculpture and that it was the sculptor’s responsibility to release it.

Here are three very pertinent quotes from Michelangelo:

“The best artist has that thought alone Which is contained within the marble shell; The sculptor’s hand can only break the spell To free the figures slumbering in the stone.’’

‘’Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.’’

‘’I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.’’

Michelangelo’s words are an excellent analogy to Christians and can teach us a great deal about discovering and learning the Christ within us – Eph 4:20. I am saying this because many Christians are grossly unaware of the ‘’Masterpiece’’ that we contain. This Masterpiece is priceless, the embodiment of perfection, beyond comparison and above all. God’s eternal will is that His Masterpiece will be revealed to the world, for all to see.

Please read these following scriptures with Michelangelos words in mind:

Gal 4:19 KJV  My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

Rom 8:29 KJV  ……, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, ….

Did you notice the simarlarities? As far as the sculpting analogy goes, the apostle Peter says that we are living stones that are being built up into a temple – 1 Peter 2:5. Before these stones can be used to build with, they need to be fashioned and chiselled into the correct shape and size. At new birth we are like a block of dusty raw marble freshly hewn from the stone quarry. Each stone needs to be worked on so that it can be used for building. To the natural eye and casual observer, this chunk of stone has no value with no godly form whatsoever. To God our Father, Who is Spirit, sees the inner form,  the  invisible, the perfect Life hidden within the stone. God is very much like a ”kind” of Michelangelo who wants to set the Masterpiece within the stone free – free from the bondage of the outer fleshly man.

When we are born from above, Christ is placed in us perfectly complete, but our understanding of Him in us is not. At this tender stage, we do not know Christ. Our soul which consists of our mind, will and emotions, needs to be renewed in the knowledge of Him within. How does this happen? The Holy Spirit teaches us Christ within – Joh 14:20 , John 15:26. He begins to ”work” on the raw stone, using specially designed tools that are designed to remove and take away unwanted stone. He chisels away the rough outer stone using a hammer to drive the chisel away the hard rock, that is imprisoning the Christ within us. What are the tools that He uses? He uses circumstances and difficult times as His sculpting tools – because all things have been created by Christ and for Christ! Everything we encounter is used by Him for His glory and purpose. These tools strip away the hard outer shell enveloping Christ within. Daily we are fashioned so that Christ will be revealed to the expectant world around us. The Master Sculptor unswervingly keeps His eyes on the perfect Person within the stony shell, removing and taking away all that hinders His perfect purpose – to bring forth us Christ in us, the hope of glory.

As we submit to His workmanship, which takes a life time, we are transformed from glory to glory – 2Co 3:18 KJV  But we all, ….. are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We all know that saying that says, “life is not a destination, it is a journey”. As God’s children this is not true, for Life is not a journey, it is a Person, the Perfect One – JESUS CHRIST coming forth out of this stony shell that we know so well, the one we call ‘’me, my, I and myself!”

My prayer is the same as John the Baptist when he prayed this prayer: May He increase, and me decrease – John 3:30. Christ increases in our soul realm, not in our spirit – for  Christ is complete, but our knowledge of Him in us is not. Christ can only increase in our understanding of Him. He does not grow, we do. We grow in our soul, from whence spiritual growth occurs.

In closing, may we welcome every blow from the Master Sculptor’s hammer, that chisels away man effort, stubbornness and self-will. I pray that you will welcome this sculpting, because no one can escape this if you hunger after God. God just like Michelangelo will continue to remove everything that hinders Christ from being formed, in you!!!

End note: Michelangelo’s unyielding faith in God remained his main source of inspiration and served as the primary motivation for his greatest works. He was a sculptor apart, a lover of stone and a believer in life everlasting.



One response

23 04 2012

The Way of the Cross
by Jean-Pierre de Caussade

It is true that a canvas simply and blindly offered to the brush feels at each moment only the stroke of the brush. It is the same with a lump of stone. Each blow from the hammering of the sculptor’s chisel makes it feel – if it could – as if it were being destroyed. As blow after blow descends, the stone knows nothing of how the sculptor is shaping it. All it feels is a chisel chopping away at it, cutting it and mutilating it.

For example, let’s take a piece of stone destined to be carved into a crucifix or a statue. We might ask it: “What do you think is happening to you?” And it might answer: “Don’t ask me. All I know is that I must stay immovable in the hand of the sculptor, and I must love him and endure all he inflicts on me to produce a figure he has in mind. He knows how to do it. As for me, I have no idea what he is doing, nor do I know what he will make of me. But what I do know is that his work is the best possible. it is perfect. I welcome each blow of the chisel as the best thing that could happen to me, although, if I’m to be truthful, If feel that every one of these blows is ruining me, destroying me and disfiguring me. But I remain unconcerned. I ccncentrate on the present moment, think only of my duty,and suffer all that the master sculptor inflicts on me without knowing the purpose or fretting about it.”

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