Chances are… you know beauty when you see it

Be it people, works of art, or musical compositions, we are drawn to things that are beautiful. Beauty stops us in our tracks. Driving around a mountain bend, we are lured to those cutouts in the road were people interrupt their trips, get out of their cars, and soak in the vistas. Driving down coastal highways, we take in the miles of breathless sights and marvel as the ocean nestles and sometimes crashes against the shoreline rock. The imagination and creativity behind beauty comes from a loving and giving God. Click To Tweet

We appreciate the layout of a wonderfully landscaped garden as the colours of flowers pop against the greenery, stone, and mulch beneath them. Certain musical themes or progressions have an attractiveness that we can’t quite put our fingers on, but they hook us and move our souls in ways mere words cannot.

It is true that there exists an element of subjectivity with regards to beauty, but it is far outweighed by its ubiquitous qualities. The adage states that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The Bible suggests to us that the first beholder was God. Surveying all that was created, God proclaimed, “This is good.” He then fashioned human beings to fully enjoy it—to be beholders of it.

Nature did not have to be as spectacular as it is. We did not have to have the sensory capabilities that we do. Creation reflects the sheer beauty and extravagance of a God who brought it into being for humanity to experience. The imagination and creativity behind beauty comes from a loving and giving God. So, some suggest that beauty might very well be proof that God exists.

It’s worth remembering that beauty, like the feathers of the peacock, is only one component of anything we deem to be beautiful. There are those who appreciate beauty in the world with no thought of a creator.  Some argue that the appreciation for beauty is just part of our evolutionary process and that it’s nature’s way of acting at a distance—making things or people beautiful so that we are less likely to hurt them. The Christian scriptures retort that God has made all things beautiful in their time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

However, the real feat is not so much God’s ability to create something beautiful. It’s God ability to restore beauty to what has been consumed or devastated, which the Bible describes as “ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). That’s what God offers to all of creation.

Some consider Jesus’ death on the cross as something repulsive, but the ugliness of that moment was actually a beautiful display of love. It is the good news that brings the change we need in our broken, ash-ridden world. The Christian scriptures propose that the very feet that bring the good news of God’s love to us are beautiful (Romans 10:15). The beauty of what God did for us in Jesus is meant to stop us in our tracks.

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Margaret Manning Shull is currently part of the speaking and writing team at RZIM. She has served in pastoral roles focusing on teaching, discipleship, spiritual formation, and pastoral care. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, with honors, from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, before earning her Masters of Divinity degree, summa cum laude, from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Margaret is an ordained minister and is passionate about communicating the gospel in ways that engage both heart and mind. Her warm and relational teaching style, highlighted by her unique emphasis on conversational apologetics, are huge assets as she addresses the critical intersection between Christian faith and life. Margaret lives with her husband, David, in Bellingham, Washington.