Cross Points 6.25.21

Working on the Sistine Chapel

While visiting Italy in 2017, Rexanne and I had the privilege of taking a tour of the Vatican while in Rome.  The Vatican is where St Peter’s Basilica resides, the largest physical church in the world.  They believe that the Apostle Peter is buried below the altar at the front of the church.  We looked at the famous sculpture by Michelangelo with Mary holding Jesus’ body after the crucifixion, had eyes wide open viewing the mummified body of Pope Innocent that is on display.  The Vatican is where the living Popes reside (and some of the dead ones), a unique “nation” that stands alone within the country of Italy.  It is also where you find the Sistine Chapel, made famous by the ceiling paintings of Michelangelo.

Our time in the Sistine Chapel was not enough.  As you tour the complex, they allow only so many into this room at a time, with about 15 minutes to look around, then you are herded out as they prepare for the next group to enter.  No pictures are allowed, much to my dismay.  So, whatever you can take in for memory in that 15 minutes is all you get.  The famous section that displays God reaching out to touch his finger to the finger of Adam in creation must be searched for among all that is on the ceiling.  We wanted to see this because we have a painting that shows their hands reaching toward each other.

One of the pictures accompanying this Cross Point is from the cartoon Far Side, where they show the men working on the flooring, not quite as famous as Michelangelo’s ceiling.  Funny, but illustrative.
The Apostle Peter was told by Jesus that “on this rock I will build my church.”  The Catholic Church believes “this rock” was Peter, but evangelical churches believe “this rock” was Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ.  The church is the people, the disciples who follow the Lord.  The Apostle Paul says we are all part of the church, and each must do his part, “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22).

Maybe you are an evangelist, preaching God’s Word and proclaiming Christ to the unbelieving world that some may come to faith, like Michelangelo painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which speaks to so many visually.  Maybe, but probably not.  More likely you tend to be like me, the working person helping to lay the flooring that will be trampled on without thought by millions in the days to come, as they stand on your work and look up at the ceiling.  But guess what?  Those dirty feet that stand on your flooring, they bring the person to this place, they allow their eyes to feast on the marvels above!  Those eyes would not gain from the evangelist if you hadn’t worked on the floor where they stand.

In other words, when you or I help in the children’s ministry, or sing on the praise team, watch the babies in the nursery, or help in a class, or mop the floor, or invite our neighbor or friend to church, all such things provide what is needed so people who do not know Jesus as Lord can hear God’s Word proclaimed by the preacher, so they can learn and be strengthened once a disciple.  “If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing?  If an ear, where would be the sense of smell?  But God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose…. The head cannot say to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’  The weaker parts are indispensable!” (I Cor. 12).    
Cross Point: Whatever you do as part of the church, do it as to the Lord (Col. 3:23).  But this verse is intended for more than what is done on Sunday, or at the church building.  Whatever you say and do to honor Jesus and promote his way adds flooring that allows others to view the big picture of God.
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