There are two types of artists:
- Those who paint and hope someone buys it.
- Those who are asked to paint.
When I paint, it’s for myself. I seriously doubt anyone would pay for my work … even at a garage sale or those half-price weekends at Goodwill. But there is a select crowd that have a reputation for their art. People seek them out and pay them to paint something specific. We call it commissioned art.
One of the most well-known works of art was commissioned. In 1508, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo took the commission—reluctantly. He saw himself as a sculptor, not a painter. But the pope (and others) pushed hard, and Michelangelo took the ceiling on. Michelangelo’s reputation was such that, even though he had never painted a single fresco, others were confident he could do it.
And they were right—but Michelangelo remained reluctant. Time and again, he bailed on the project and went home to Florence. And time and again, he was coaxed back. After four years of work (1508-1512) that damaged his eyesight, his work was revealed to an awed public.
And the public remains in awe 500 years later.
No one will ever commission me to paint a work of art, but I have received another commission—and if you are a Christ-follower, you have received a commission too. It comes straight from Christ Himself.
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).
We have a commission and it is related to a work of art: We are to put on display the beautiful work of Christ in our lives. God took our sin-filled lives and made us His masterpiece. He didn’t simply paint over or mask our sin; He removed it and painted us with the colors of forgiveness, grace, and love.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
You are God’s masterpiece.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
The commission you and I have received is to tell others of the work God has done in our lives and invite them to experience the same life-giving transformation. We are called to lead others to faith in Christ, to become a masterpiece in His hands.
Michelangelo was commissioned to create something beautiful. He did, but that art will not last. We are also commissioned to do something beautiful, but it will last—and it will impact eternity. And that’s a beautiful thing.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isa. 52:7).
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This post supports the study “Our Commission” in Bible Studies for Life and YOU.
Join Lynn Pryor and Chris Johnson as they discuss this topic: