You Are the Sistine Chapel

Did you know that Michelangelo was primarily a sculptor, not a painter? When the pope forced him to paint the Sistine Chapel, he angrily complained, “I’ve grown goiter at this drudgery… This place is wrong for me, and I’m no painter.”

For centuries, art critics thought this might explain why the chapel ceiling was so bland. It’s colors were primary dusty pastels and understated hues. They assumed that color would be meaningless to a sculptor. One nineteenth century critic even remarked, “Color would gravely damage this work. It would no longer be the mental image of a feat beyond human conception.”

During the 1980’s, the Vatican commissioned a long overdue restoration of the church. The Sistine Chapel didn’t get electric lights until around the turn of the century. Until that time, it was lighted by rows of fat tallow candles.

These candles deposited a layer of soot all on the paintings. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, the Vatican applied a coat diluted animal glue to brighten them. Instead, it made them even darker. A critic said that by the late 20th century “looking at the painting on the Sistine chapel was like listening to Beethoven through an inch of felt.”

As the cleaning progressed, workers discovered something that both surprised and embarrassed the experts. When the years of dirt and grease were painstakingly removed, brilliant color leaped from the drab frescoes to produce a vivid contrast to the dingy grays. One sage said, “It turned out Michelangelo’s ‘sublime grayness’ was only grease and soot.”

sistine

In a way, you are like the Sistine Chapel. God, the master artist, has created you to live in brilliant color. But the dust and soot of living in this world has left you covered in a dim film of gray. Some say, “Keep it gray. That’s the way it was meant to be.”

“I’m okay, you’re okay.”

“Learn to love your grayness.”

God says, “No! I have so much more for you. I want you to live in brilliant color.” In Psalm 51, David wrote this:

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which Thou hast broken rejoice. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

God wants to do a work of restoration on you. That’s the good news.

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