Wednesday, June 7, 2017

More Than Mere Men

One of my favorite days on my trip abroad was our day at the Vatican in Rome. My excitement was limited to my Protestantism, but I would have disappointed David Lipscomb with my giggles of anticipation. I must be clear as to why I was so pumped for this tour. It was not to see Pope Francis(we didn't), the work of Raphael, not even to see St. Peter's Cathedral(although, that's another post entirely). My thrill was rooted in Michelangelo, the master artist himself. Seeing the Sistine Chapel has been a dream of mine since I was a high schooler, reading about the delicate brush strokes of the Renaissance. This dream was only rekindled as a college freshman, learning of the spiteful hand of Michelangelo as he painted for the Pope.

This dream was moments away of coming to fruition was we stood in like outside of the massive walls.

After waiting in line for what seemed like years, we made it in. Room by room, staircase by staircase, we inched closer to that beautiful chapel. My heart was racing as the guards told us to be quiet when we entered. As I stepped through the threshold, my breath left my lungs and tears left my eyes.

It was beautiful.

Hushed whispers rose up to compliment each figure's complexity.

I gazed at my surroundings, taking in the narrative told all around me. The ceiling told God's creation. Each day leading up to the monumental moment of God breathing into Adam. Man lazily stretched out to God, taking advantage of Love as Creator. God reaching out towards man like He would do for the rest of time, constantly seeking communion with Man, even at the price of His own Son. The fall of man shows Adam and Eve taken away from that communion by their own choice of disobedience. Running from the Good, from the Best. Next, all around the walls are the prophets, foretelling the Messiah. Intermixed are pagan prophetesses, distracting Man from the promise of communion. The finale at the head of the chapel, showing Jesus, the head of the Church. On the last day, He is separating the humans covered in His blood from the mere men.

In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul calls out the church for quarreling and jealousy. He tells them plainly that they are still living as the world does, saying, 

"You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"

Looking at the Sistine Chapel from a secular standpoint you see paint, talent, and a lot of human figures. Even God is shown as a human in two different forms! But if you see the story it tells from a Christian standing, you see God working from Creation to Rapture. Is that the truth in our lives too? We, as mankind, were created with God breathing into our lungs, promised to be with God forever. When we broke our side of that covenant with sin, God moved the rest of history to pull us back into His presence. 

We are not mere men.

From prophet to prophet, God revealed His will of sending Jesus to ransom us from Death once and for all. Jesus came to die the punishment for our wrongdoings, and He was raised in glory to show His authority over Hell. Christians, we are covered in His royal blood, allowing us to come clean before the Creator.

We are not mere men.

Jesus promised when He went back to the Father's right hand, He would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit who would equip us to carry out the Kingdom on Earth. Now, Church, we are filled with God living within us, search our hearts and working through us.

We are not mere men.

Fellow Christians, Lovers of Light, I remind you this morning of the charge that we have in Christ: seek holiness, because we are more than where this Earth is bound. Paul writes in Philippians 3:12-14, 

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Because Christ has taken ahold of us, because He has called us to holiness when He washes us in His sacrifice, let us honor that blood covenant by seeking righteousness and holiness in the way we live. I say with Paul, I do not consider myself perfect in this by any means, certainly not as close to holiness as Paul was when he wrote this. Let that not discourage, but give us a goal to strive after: Christ.

My parents would always say, "Remember who you are and whose you are," when dropping me off at anyone's house growing up. It was a reminder that I am a child of God and a stern warning to act accordingly. Later on in life, those words rang back through my ears. As I stood, a blubbering mess in the Sistine Chapel, I was in awe of beautiful art, but moreover, a beautiful narrative that my Lord wrote to draw me back into His presence. 

Church, remember who you are and whose you are,  for we are not mere men. 

-Sarah Mae

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