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Made Holy

March 29, 2015

“The Deposition” a/k/a “Florence Pieta” or “Pieta Bandini” by Michelangelo (1547-1555), Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen (Copyright Marie-Lan Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY 2.5)

“Many believe – and I believe – that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put my hope in Him.”

– Michelangelo

The great Renaissance artist, Michelangelo, sculpted “The Deposition” or “Florence Pieta” late in life.  We see Christ lowered by Nicodemus from the cross into the arms of His waiting mother. The sculpture is in sharp contrast with the more well-known “Pieta” at St. Peter’s Basilica whose perfection first established Michelangelo’s reputation.

Dissatisfied with “The Deposition”, Michelangelo attempted to destroy it after some eight years of effort. A novice sculptor was later hired to restore the piece.  It is said the face of Nicodemus is Michelangelo’s own.

As Christians, we can sometimes feel battered. One struggle follows another. We are slandered and misunderstood; begin to accumulate scars.

The further along we go in life, the greater the challenges and the less clear their outcome. Weren’t we promised a mountaintop? Don’t we deserve a rest?

We may in our 20s find true love; in our 30s begin a family, and focus on turning our dreams into a reality. We may in our 40s feel we have attained the heights, have established ourselves in a career.

But disappointments gradually pile up. Discontent creeps in. Outright tragedies may be thrust upon us: major illness, the loss of a child or death of a spouse, war, natural disaster.

We discover we are no longer the person we were at 20, or 30, or 40. What was so carefully built up, is torn down – demolished, in fact. Our best efforts prove meaningless.

Like it or not, this is sanctification, our walk with Christ, the process by which God makes us holy. On the road to Calvary, we are stripped of our ego and achievements – of all we love, perhaps – so that God may rebuild us, reordering our priorities and focusing our attention on Him. This might sound threatening, if God were not, Himself, holy and good.

It is not fashionable these days to discuss sanctification. Instead, televangelists promise financial bounty, and worldly success in exchange for financial contributions.  Nowhere is this supported in the Bible.

The American composer and evangelist, Philip Bliss in 1876 wrote the beloved hymn, “It Is Well with My Soul” about sanctification. The song was inspired by Psalm 146.

“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”

May God enable us to say the same.


From → Christian, Faith, Religion

  1. Amen sister, you got me deep inside on this one. It is so true.

    As a commentary – the televangelists you mentioned are taking Christianity down the wrong road. It will be increasingly difficult as time goes on for people to find out what Christianity really is. Blessings to you.

    • Like you, Nicodemas, I think the popularity of televangelists who do not actually preach the Gospel is extremely dangerous. Not only does it mislead millions desperate for the truth. It turns many away from the hypocrisy and avarice they mistakenly associate with Christianity before they ever hear the good news of Salvation.

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