My Father, supremely good, beauty of all things beautiful.
There is very great delight the Christian enjoys in the sight he has of the glory and excellency of God. How many arts and contrivances have men to delight the eye of the body. Men take delight in the beholding of great cities, splendid buildings and stately palaces. And what delight is often taken in the beholding of a beautiful face. May we not well conclude that great delights may also be taken in pleasing the eye of the mind in seeing the most beautiful, the most glorious, the most wonderful Being in the world.
When God created us human, He gave us the capacity to enjoy beauty. And the greatest experience of beauty is in relationships of love. We have the joy of knowing that Jesus is beautiful and that He expressed His beauty in the most vivid way possible: by dying for us. Now we can taste of that beauty by having a love-relationship with Him that is deeper and sweeter than all the ugliness of the world. This too is a result of the work of Christ. It restores the beauty of life that was lost as a result of the Fall.
Hope always draws the soul from the beauty which is seen to what is beyond, always kindles the desire for the hidden through what is constantly perceived. Therefore the ardent lover of beauty, although receiving what is always visible as an image of what he desires, yet longs to be filled with the very stamp of the archetype. And the bold request which goes up the mountains of desire asks this: to empty the Beauty not in mirrors and reflections, but face to face.
The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things – the beauty, the memory of our own past – are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
True saints do what they do because they are drawn by love. True Christians find that the love of God in Christ is so attractive, so beautiful, that they cannot help wanting to serve Him. There is a splendor, a beauty, about God and His ways that lures humans beings to Him (Gerald McDermott).
Taken from Seeing God: Twelve Reliable Signs of True Spirituality by Gerald R. McDermott, p. 114. Copyright 1995, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. Used with permission of the Intervarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515. www.ivpress.co
When our back is to the breathtaking beauty of God, we cast a shadow on the earth and fall in love with it.
The attributes of God derive their infinite beauty from their relationship to each other. Just as in paintings it is not the isolated color or shape or texture that is beautiful but rather their relationship with each other, their proportion and interplay; so it is with persons and ultimately with the person of God. It is the peculiar proportionality and interplay and harmony of all God’s attributes (together with their infiniteness and eternality) that constitutes God’s beauty, and makes Him the foundation of all the beauty in the world.
The punishment of those who have not seen and loved the beauty of God’s holiness in this age will be utter exclusion from his all-satisfying beauty in the age to come (2 Thes. 1:9).
Sin turns ugly and is subject to defeat only when seen in the light of Christ’s beauty.
The only way to liberate the heart from servitude to the passing pleasures of sin is by cultivating a passion for the joy and delight of beholding the beauty of God in the face of Jesus. What breaks the power of sin is faith in the promise that the pleasures of sin are temporary and toxic but at God’s right hand are pleasures evermore (see Psalm 16:11).
We are not going to simply wake up one morning and discover that we suddenly hate what we used to love. The things of this world will never appear as “dung” when viewed in and of themselves. They will smell good and taste good and feel good and bring satisfaction and we will treasure and value them and fight for them and work for them and find every excuse imaginable to get them at any and all cost; they will retain their magnetic appeal and allure and power until they are set against the surpassing value and beauty of Christ Jesus.
God has, as it were, placed Himself on display in the art gallery of the universe. He beckons His people, you and me, to stand in awe as we behold the symmetry of His attributes, the harmony of His deeds, the glory of His goodness, the overwhelming and unfathomable grandeur of His greatness; in a word, His beauty. God is infinitely splendid and invites us to come and bask in His beauty that we might enjoy Him to the fullest.
In God alone are perfect proportion, harmony, unity, and diversity in delicate balance, stunning brilliance, and integrity. God is beautiful! If we were able to think of God as a painting, we would say that there are no random brush strokes, no clashes of colors. God is aesthetically exquisite. In God there is absolute resolution, integration, the utter absence of even one discordant element.
God’s revelatory manifestation of Himself in creation, in providence, in Scripture, and pre-eminently in the face of His Son, Jesus Christ, is designed to evoke within the breathtaking delight and incomparable joy of which God alone is worthy. Beauty is that in God which makes Him eminently desirable and attractive and quickens in the soul a realization that it was made for a different world.
God has sovereignly pulled back the curtain on His glory. He has disclosed Himself on the platform of both creation and redemption that we might stand awestruck in His presence, beholding the sweet symmetry of His attributes, pondering the unfathomable depths of His greatness, baffled by the wisdom of His deeds and the limitless extent of His goodness. This is His beauty.
Divine beauty is absolute, unqualified, and independent. All created reality, precisely because it is derivative of the Creator, is beautiful in a secondary sense and only to the degree that it reflects the excellencies of God and fulfills the purpose for which He has made it. Perfect order, harmony, magnitude, integrity, proportion, symmetry, and brilliance are found in God alone. There is in the personality and activity of God neither clash of color nor offensive sound. He is in every conceivable respect morally exquisite, spiritually sublime, and aesthetically elegant.
The aesthetic experience of God, the encounter of the human soul with divine beauty, is more than merely enjoyable, it is profoundly transforming. There is within it the power to persuade and to convince the inquiring mind of truth. This may well be the Spirit’s greatest catalyst for change. Paul alluded to this in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when he said, “We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another.” The point is that what we see is what we be! We do not simply behold beauty: beauty takes hold of us and challenges the allegiance of our hearts. Beauty calls us to reshape our lives and exposes the shabbiness of our conduct. It awakens us to the reality of a transcendent Being to whose likeness of beauty we are being called and conformed by His gracious initiative. Beauty has the power to dislodge from our hearts the grip of moral and spiritual ugliness. The soul’s engagement with beauty elicits love and forges in us a new affection that no earthly power can overcome.
Beauty also rebukes by revealing to us the moral deformity of those things we’ve embraced above Jesus and by exposing the hideous reality beyond the deceptively attractive façade of worldly amusements. We are deceived by the ugliness of sin because we haven’t gazed at the beauty of Christ. Distortion and perversion and futility are fully seen only in the perfect light of integrity and harmony and purpose which are revealed in Jesus.
We encounter the beauty of the Lord when we spiritually ingest the statements of Scripture concerning the wonders of who God is and all He does. When we take the scintillating truths of God and hide them in our hearts, meditate on them, muse on them, soak our souls in them, so to speak, we become infatuated with the exquisite personality of God.