If the Bible stipulates certain things as beautiful, then there really is beauty in the eye of the Beholder, with a capital B. Almighty God is inexpressibly beautiful in his own being. One early theologian thus described him as “the all-beautiful,” “the superabundant source in itself of the beauty of every beautiful thing.”4 Beautiful in himself, God has also promised to “set beauty in the land of the living” (Ezek. 26:20). Whatever God sees and says is beautiful is beautiful! The Bible tells us so.
The Beauty of Eternity
Where have you seen the beauty that God is bringing into the world?
I have glimpsed it in a flaming meteor streaking across the August sky and disappearing with a flash over a darkly shimmering lake. I have heard it in the laughter of a baby girl climbing up into a chair for the first time and chortling over her unexpected little triumph. I have seen it in the face of a radiant bride on her wedding day and the irrepressible tear on the cheek of her beloved groom.
I have also seen beauty rising from the ashes of a burning world. Pastor Steve Wood bore witness to such beauty as he surveyed the ruins of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in April 2018. After a long legal battle, the congregation finally had secured possession of its church building. Then disaster struck. A few hours before worship services were scheduled to begin one fine Sunday morning, fire ravaged the church. Although rescue workers salvaged the cross, the baptismal font, and the Communion table, the building was a total loss. Yet as Pastor Wood stood in the smoking ruins, he said to a reporter, “The Lord promises to bring beauty out of ashes. And we’re taking Him at his word.”1
Beauty out of ashes. The promise that Pastor Wood had in mind comes from Isaiah the prophet, who foretold a suffering Savior, anointed by the Spirit to
provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair. (Isa. 61:3 NIV)
Even when his culture was crumbling, Isaiah had the faith to see beauty rising. He knew that one day God would restore his people to their forgotten splendor.
There is beauty all around us in this grace-filled, sometimes smoldering world, if only we have the eyes to see it. There is a basis for it in the beauty of our triune God and in what he calls beautiful. There is a purpose for it too. Beauty is our destiny. We were born to be beautiful—to behold the beauty of our God and to be so transfixed and transformed by it that we become beautiful ourselves.
What Is Beauty?
My simple goal is to awaken a longing for beauty and the eternal love of God that can be fully satisfied only in the face of Jesus Christ. My hope and prayer is that you will be able to look toward eternity and say, in all sincerity, what David said:
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple. (Ps. 27:4)
Whether we know it or not, David’s one desire is also our deepest longing and enduring destiny.