Why Should the Church Care About Beauty?
Have you ever heard the following statements in church culture?
Beauty? Well, that’s a luxury we can’t afford.
Beauty? We don’t have time for that.
Yeah, it does not look that great…but who cares?
You may not have heard people saying these specific statements but you have likely heard people within the church implying similar thoughts.
The thoughts listed above make me cringe. They describe and imply ideas that the Bible does not teach. Even worse, these are ideas that are in opposition to the Bible.
On Earth As It Is in Heaven
Let me explain. Matthew 6:7–10 says the following:
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.""
The last sentence jumps up off the page at me! What does it mean for God’s will to be done on earth as it is heaven? Well, as you would imagine, it implies a plethora of amazing things: no pain, no grieving, no sin, a place where God reign is seen in the fullest, most obvious degree. Jesus is instructing the disciples to pray, “let the earth mirror the heavens.” Often times the church uses verse 10 to talk about sin, pain, and hardship — and rightly so! But I think there is a concept that doesn’t get navigated nearly enough. And that is that God’s kingdom involves perfect beauty and design. Do you think heaven is beautiful? You better believe it is! Open up Revelation 21:9–14. Here is Rev. 21:18–21:
“The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass."
Can you read the beauty in these lines? This is just one of the many places in the Bible that we can find God’s perfect design. Furthermore, his care for beauty.
To desire God’s kingdom to be on earth as it is in heaven not only means to pursue justice, goodness, and love, but also to desire beauty. Massimo Vignelli, designer of both the iconic American Airlines logo and the New York metro map, once said:
I believe Vignelli was on to something here. I believe his statement actually describes a God-honoring calling: a calling that strives to make earth more like heaven.
When we don’t care about what God cares about, we neglect God’s ultimate vision for humanity. Don’t allow people to belittle beauty, but rather fight for it — it is a gift. Church folk, care for the things God cares about. Don’t burn out the people in your church who care about beauty by implying that it doesn’t matter, because it does. Beauty is a gift that God intended for all of us to have, see, and experience.
Most people can’t wait for heaven so they can see their loved ones. Well, me too! But I also can’t wait for the day that every chair I sit in is beautifully and perfectly crafted, where comic sans and papyrus don’t exist, and beauty is no longer a subjective matter but the only one.