"Work of art"

Michelangelo had begun what he figured to be his crowning achievement, chiseling marble statues for the tomb of Pope Julius II, when the pope pulled him away for a menial task unworthy of the artist's great skill. Michelangelo protested that many lesser painters could repair the plaster ceiling of the pope's chapel, and he fled Rome in a futile attempt to avoid doing it. He detested the pope for forcing him into this assignment (some scholars believe that his fresco contains a cherub making a gesture of contempt to an Old Testament prophet who looks suspiciously like Julius), but Michelangelo gave it his best and transformed a repair job into the masterpiece of the Sistine Chapel.

Despite Michelangelo's cryptic insult to the pope, his commitment to always do his best typifies Paul's command to the Colossians to "work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord" (3:23). Why does Paul say that our work is "for the Lord"?

Earlier in Colossians, Paul declares that Jesus is the Creator and "through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth" (1:16). If Jesus is the Creator, then He is the one who "placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it" (Genesis 2:15) and who commanded Adam and Eve to "be fruitful and multiply" and to "fill the earth and govern it" (Genesis 1:28). Theologians call this initial command the "cultural mandate." It includes the idea that, as believers in Jesus, God has called us to establish cultures that reflect His beauty and glory.

Where does your job fit into this picture? How does what you do serve others and contribute to the development of culture? Give God your cheerful best, whether you are doing a repair job, painting a masterpiece, or both. , Mike Wittmer, Our Daily Journey

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