On Michelangelo, Judging and Community

“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.”

I LOVE this quote by Michelangelo.  Sculptures have always really fascinated me because I think it’s amazing how a chip broken off here and a little sanding there can produce something so incredible and oftentimes lifelike.  Judging from what my play-doh sculptures looked like when I was ‘teaching’ the kids to create, I was not destined to greatness in that particular art.  For me, the patience needed to create something so masterful is perhaps the greatest feat of all.  I love to sew if the project is less than an hour, but if it’s long and drawn out, count me out.  John is very meticulous with all that he creates and sometimes this causes a few discussions in our house.  A few years ago, I finished some art boards to hang in the loft.  When I asked him to hang them, he asked incredulously, “Are you sure they’re fine?  They’re not straight.  Not.at.all.”  I looked at them and quickly replied, “Nah, they’re good enough.  I’m done.  Plus I have another imperfect project I’d like to finish in the next one minute that I will need you to hang.  It will annoy you as long as we live here, but you’ll be fine.” You see, I want to get to the complete grand idea (at least I think it is) and can’t wait to see the finished product.  John wants it to be done right.  I’m not sure what his probem is.  The general idea is good for me.

In Lysa Terkheurst’s study Unglued, she talks about how we are like the statues stuck within the stone and God is freeing us.  That analogy has stuck with me for a lot of years.  I really love this description because I think that it so accurately describes the process of transformation.

Today, I was in the car and randomly began thinking about how all of us who have decided to repent and let God begin the process of freeing us, are all in different stages of sculpting. God began showing me that in the same way a sculptor uses tools, He also uses us in each other’s lives to help in the process of becoming free from sin and brokeness.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so on person sharpens another.” WOW! That is really amazing.  We need each other to become who God created us to be.  I know, I know – we often use that in reference to someone we don’t like.  We say things like, “God is really using that person to sharpen me.”  That’s often Christianeese for, “I don’t like that person at all and they really offend me.”  This brings me to my next point.

When I was thinking about the fact that we need each other, I began to realize how often instead of helping to free each other, we actually do the opposite.  We look at someone and say, “Wow, her arms look funny.  I’m not sure how God could ever use her.”  “Check out his nose, it’s kind of odd looking.”  “She has one shoulder, but she seems to be missing the other.”  There are so many places in us that are not finished yet.  Things that God knows about and has a plan to free.  “Wow, look at their marriage.  What a mess.” “She sure isn’t very friendly.”  “He is way too arrogant.”  I’m not going to weary you with all of the judgments that are made all of the time.  You already know them.  Some of the judgments may be ones that you have thought or maybe you have been on the receiving end.  I would venture to say that most of us have been on both ends of the judgments.  The important thing that we so often forget is that we are works in progress.  God is changing us and transforming us into His image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord-who is the Spirit-makes us more and more like him as we are changed into His glorious image. (italics mine)

First of all, none of us knows a person’s complete story.  I don’t need to tell you that humans are complicated.  All of this is NOT to say that we don’t ever point out sin in a person’s life, but we have to be careful that we have the heart of God for the situation. Otherwise, we will use a sledgehammer where maybe a chisel is needed.  We may use words where prayer is needed or we may pray when words and prayer are needed.  When approaching another person, we have to be careful that we have the mind of the Master Sculptor so that we are a TOOL in His hand.  We are not Him.  If He wants to use us in that way, we need wisdom from Him.  People (our spouses and children included) are His workmanship.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the things He planned for us long ago.”

I think we all know that a lot of the problem with what we say is not the actual words, but the tone that the words are said in.  We can confront someone, but if we have an accusing attitude we probably don’t have the heart of God in the situation.  I heard a quote and I don’t remember who said it, but it was so true.  “When we don’t speak the truth in love, it is no longer truth.” Ephesians 4:15 says to speak the truth in love.  We are to speak truth, but do it in love and not in an accusing, self-righteous (secretly enjoying it) way.  Revelation 12:10 says that Satan is the accuser of the brethren.  I definitely don’t want to have ANY part of that, but so often in our minds, that is where we head.  When our minds go there, gossip often follows.  Gossip is taking part in the accusations.  I really really don’t want to be a part of that.  I don’t want even a little part of that.  Heaven forbid that I should work against God and work to keep someone in bondage who God is trying to free.  My prayer has been, “God let me be part of the healing and freedom You want to bring to bring to other’s lives.”

So many times we are impatient.  We want everyone to be finished NOW and we expect them to be.  What if we extended grace?  What if we listened?  Listened to God? “God what does my friend or this person need right now?” Listened to our friend and took time to really hear their heart. What if when we see a problem say with a marriage, a family, life choices etc, we asked God for His heart and prayed on our own accordingly.  I know that people around me can see brokeness in me.  Some places I probably know about and other places I probably have no idea at all.  I need friends and people around me rooting for my freedom and you do too.  I need people to confront me, love me and show me God’s heart when I can’t see it in my situation.  We all need this.  We also need people who can show us and remind us of all that God has done in us. We need those who say, “Wow! If he could do that in you, then He can do that in me!”  You see, when God frees me or you from something, it’s not just for us.  There is someone else around us who is struggling with that very thing and need us to point the way.  They need us to remind them of Who God is and that He is able.  We need each other.  This is the community we were meant to live in.  You see, there are really two sides.  We can stand with the enemy and accuse or we can stand with God and root for each other all the while marveling at the work God is doing in each of us.  How amazing to see freedom coming to the people around us.

Let’s make a decision to stand on the side of freedom and allow God to bring healing, wholeness through our words, our actions and our lives.  Let’s ask God to convict us when we accuse and give us His heart for others and eyes to see what He sees.

Hebrews 12:1-2  Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge cloud of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion who authorizes and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now He is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

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