Preaching and Worship Resources about Beauty
A beautiful face, or car, or poem, or sunset–all the world's beauty is but a ravishing hint of the beauty at the heart of the universe: the glory of God the Creator.
Synonyms In the Bible, beauty is synonymous with glory, splendor, radiance, and goodness. God is the source and goal of all beauty.
In the beginning God fashioned the world and called it "good." The Hebrew word also has the connotation of "beautiful." As such, the goodness and beauty of the world reflect that of its Creator.
God is beautiful, and the temple, God's earthly dwelling, reflects that beauty: "Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth" (Ps. 96:9, NIV) "One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple" (Ps. 27:4)"
Beauty also has the quality of being fitting. In Ecclesiastes 3, the Preacher lists a number of human experiences and then says that everything is "beautiful" (fitting, appropriate) in its time (Ecc. 3:1-11). Tears at a funeral can be beautiful, as can tears of joy at a wedding. A fresh young face is beautiful, but so is one lined by years of experience.
Failing to recognize that all beauty has its source in God can lead to a form of idolatry — worshiping the reflection rather than the source. Ezekiel 16 is a long parable on the ways in which Israel abused her God-given beauty by prostituting herself to the nations.
Physical Beauty is Fleeting Several passages emphasize that physical beauty is a fleeting thing. "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised" (Prov. 31:30).
Physical Beauty Reflects the Beauty of a Good Heart Other passages remind us that physical beauty is only truly worthwhile when it reflects the beauty of a good heart. "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Pet. 3:3,4).
Jesus' transfiguration (Matt. 17:1 - 9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28 - 36), with his face blazing with glorious brightness, is not only a picture of his divine glory, but also of his splendor as the new human who perfectly reflects the image of God. As such, it pictures the beauty and glory of all humanity in Christ.
John's vision of the new creation in Revelation 21-22 is nothing if not an evocation of beauty. From precious stones to stately gardens, the New Jerusalem, where God finally dwells with God's people, is a destination of overwhelming, glorious beauty.
Points to Ponder
In the Eye of the Beholder It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I wonder if someone whose heart is filled with hatred or lust is capable of perceiving beauty at all. To the greedy, a Rembrandt is measured in its cost. To the lustful, a beautiful person is reduced to their available orifices. The deeper we are mired in sin, the more ugly reality becomes.
In art, what finally distinguishes the ugly from the beautiful is that it evokes and expresses reality and truth. The sentimental depiction of ordinary life in Norman Rockwell's famous Thanksgiving, and the ugliness of war expressed in Picasso's Guernica, can both be called beautiful. But, paradoxically, many would say that the Picasso more fully expresses the truth of life, and is therefore the more beautiful.
John Flavel Puritan writer John Flavel (1628-1691) said, "All that delights you in earthly things can never satisfy you for all of your desires are in God. The comforts you have here are only drops inflaming, not satisfying the appetites of your soul, but the Lamb will lead you to fountains of living water."
Richard Baxter "The more perfect the sight is the more delightful the beautiful object. The more perfect the appetite, the sweeter the food. The more musical the ear, the more pleasant the melody. The more perfect the soul, the more joyous the joys of heaven and the more glorious that glory".
Bob Dylan in "Not Dark Yet" "Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain".
Leo Tolstoy "All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow".
|Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.|