The story is told that Michelangelo, the great painter and sculptor, was rolling a huge piece of marble home one day when he was stopped by a passerby.
“What have you got there, Michelangelo?” he asked.
Michelangelo responded, “There is an angel inside trying to get out.”
What a way to look at the world around us. If Michelangelo could see an angel in a piece of marble, just think of the great potential when we look at a real, live human being? God looks at us and sees a great saint in the process of development. When we look at another person do we see the worst or the best that person can become? Do we see the littlest or the biggest possibilities?
We can never tell what’s going to happen to another person. I’ll never forget one Sunday some years ago, our daughter Laura, was singing in our children’s choir. I was in the back and I was having a hard time recognizing which one was Laura. I thought I found her — the littlest curly-haired blonde in the front row. But it didn’t look quite like her. I looked again and I finally found her. She was the tallest one in the back row!
That was an emotional discovery for me. I got all choked up, for you see, Laura had always been the littlest of anyone her age for many years. She only weighed 4 pounds, 5 ounces when she was born. She was in the lowest 5% on her growth chart for a long time. Finally, she started to grow and for a while she was as tall or taller than many of the other kids. It was hard for me to believe. I didn’t think it was possible. In many ways people have potential we can’t see, but God can see it.
When God looks at us, he sees someone with great gifts and talents to use in powerful ways. God wants each Christian to be involved in the ministry of the Kingdom of God. We are to be God’s body, his hands and feet to reach the world.
Jesus on several occasions compared the Kingdom of God to a banquet, a great feast. The sad part was that many people didn’t come. It was a little like Oscar Wild’s story about his Aunt Jane. He said she died of mortification when no one came to her grand ball. Then he added, “… but she died without knowing that she had failed to mail the invitations.”
This happens in our churches. There are many fine churches. They have beautiful buildings, and wonderful programs. But the word doesn’t get delivered that the feast is for every person.
Jesus never directly told people to attend church, but he did command his followers, “Go to the main streets and invite to the feast as many people as you find.” (Matthew 22:9) It’s our job to deliver the invitations. We may not think we have great talents but one of the greatest is to invite people to come to church and other activities. We all have great potential in the eyes of God.
Prayer: Our Lord, help us to see angels in stone and saints in human form and especially the one in the mirror. Amen.
The Rev. Dan Safarik recently retired as a full-time pastor at St. Luke Methodist Church in Lincoln and now serves part time at St. Mark’s UMC in Lincoln. Email him at email@example.com.