God & Beauty
"When God created the material things of this world he meant for them to portray his glory."
Lately I’ve been pondering the idea of beauty and both its theological and philosophical implications.
Why did God make everything beautiful? Why should we care? What does beauty tell me about God? Why would God gift people like you and me with a special ability to craft beautiful things?
I believe the answers to these questions could give us, the church, better insight into why we as people of faith we should care deeply about beauty. Here are a couple of thoughts that have helped me navigate this concept.
Beauty: God’s Way to Show Off
When God created the material things of this world he meant for them to portray his glory. He wanted the eye of the beholder to see creation (and recognize it as from him), then to see his bigness, and ultimately to admire him as the creator. The beauty in creation tells us how beautiful God is. I highly recommend Dr. John Piper’s great post regarding this topic.
God chose beauty as the tangible and perceivable aesthetic to describe and reveal himself.
Beauty: God’s Way to Love Us
Not only did God make things beautiful to display his glory in a tangible way but he did it as an act of love. Can you describe the feeling you have when you see something beautiful? Yeah, it’s called pleasure.
When our eyes see a big, snowy mountain, surrounded by trees carrying fall leafs, there are multiple things we feel: awe, wonder, humility. Sometimes we can’t hold our words but at the same time we don’t know what else to say except, “Wow…” That, my friends, is pleasure. A kind of pleasure that you can only feel when your eyes gaze upon something truly beautiful.
Men, do you remember when you caught the first glimpse of your bride coming down the aisle on your wedding day? I bet you do! Wasn’t she gorgeous to look upon?! Now you get to enjoy and experience that beauty. That is a gift.
Beauty: God’s Gift to Us
Beauty is a gift. Let’s not diminish its experience. Let’s not settle with ugliness.
Let us not grow tired of fighting for beauty in our churches. Like I said in a previous post, “When we don’t care about what God cares about, we neglect God’s ultimate vision for humanity.”
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” — Romans 1:20
Beauty isn’t a luxury we can’t afford; no, it’s a gift that gives us a sneak peek into God’s character. And knowing God isn’t a luxury — it is the cry of every human heart.
Beauty: Our Way to Serve
As image-bearers, we should use beauty as a way to love and serve others. Also it should be a way for us as artists to display God’s glory through the gift he has given us.
We should make every effort to give our fellow man pleasant experiences through beautiful design and art, that whether the person acknowledges or not, point their desperate heart to God. By removing ugliness, artists like you and I are providing people experiences that reflect God’s character.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”
— Psalms 19:1