Christ – the desired model

Jean-Honoré Fragonard left France to study art in Rome.  The effort puzzled and disappointed him.  The great masters bewildered him.  Michelangelo’s energy terrified him.  Raphael’s capture of beauty moved him to tears but discouraged him.  He simply couldn’t imagine himself being in their company.

In self-defense he fell into indolence.  Unable to equal them, he felt no need to continue. Then he had an epiphany. If he couldn’t master the artistic levels the incomparables represented, why not study lesser, but still challenging, artists?

That led him to study Baroccio, Pietroda Cortona and Tiepolo.  They offered skills above his without overwhelming him.  Holding his attention they simultaneously enlarged his mind and art.  Durant, History of Civilization X, 115

The moral of his story is:  if some models in one’s career seem too advanced or hard to follow, choose others within one’s skill level.

However, and Christians PAY ATTENTION, we never settle for a lesser model than Jesus Christ to study and emulate.  Even though his life is unparalleled in history.  Even though no one, not even the apostles, came close to his perfection.

Why then shouldn’t the example Jesus Christ set intimidate us into giving up, forgetting it, being satisfied with lesser model set by mortals like ourselves?   Because of what happens when we try to be like Jesus!  Whatever way we TRY to be like Jesus, and succeed only partially, or not at all, the very effort leads us closer to where God wants us to be.  While we try but fail, we succeed in being increasingly mature Christians and MORE like Jesus than we were before.  Thus…given enough efforts at trying to be like him and only partially, or not at all, succeeding, the spiritual principle always works:  the human effort multiplied by the Holy Spirit’s grace leads us from one level of maturity to another.

So what if the measureless person of Christ can’t be equaled…now…or ever?  What if we spend eternity plumbing his depths and breadths?  The very effort will continue to enlarge and deepen our lives step beyond step, measure beyond measure, dimension after dimension.  Amen to the Master’s richness of wisdom and knowledge!  Romans 11:23.

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Apologetics book:  Their Own Best Defense, Volume 2, Part 1 

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