At the Winter Olympics, I was entranced by Yuna Kim’s figure skating performance. At only nineteen, she has the ability to captivate millions with her gracefulness on the ice. The synthesis of music and dance with the fluidity of skating is an aesthetic dream made real – every eye is on her as she twirls and spins, arcing and gliding to a near-perfect record on the most rigorous scoring system yet.
We as human beings are acutely sensitive to beauty. Our every sense is fine-tuned to feel pleasure in the heave of music, the sway of dance, the fragrance of wildflowers – we are a beauty-seeking people. We search for it in nature and in each other, and we strive to develop it within us. And yet, quite often, we forget to trace beauty to its original source – God Himself. Psalm 27:4 says:
One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
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 seek him in his temple.
When I think of the “beauty” of the Lord, I usually picture something like the sun – a bright, golden, shimmering light that I can’t look straight at without blinding myself. Indeed, Psalm 27:4 used to make me picture something like that – a great light flooding through a white-pillared temple. There might not be anything wrong with that image, but recently I’ve come to understand God’s beauty in a more subtle way.
Perhaps the key word to look at in this verse is the last word “temple.” I always understood this to mean a building, but it occurred to me that we as Christians – as imitators of Christ – are God’s temple.
It is almost a frightening thing to think that “perfect in beauty, God shines forth” (Psalm 50:2) in the temple that is my heart. One of the first questions that hit me upon this recognition is, “Okay, what do I do with this?”
Thank God for the Bible.
Ephesians 5: 19-20 and 25-27 gives us a pretty clear idea of what God desired his beauty to look like in us. First, in verse 19 and 20, we are encouraged to “19Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What fascinates me in these verses is that God desires for us to greet each other in the same manner we would greet God Himself – with music and thanksgiving for each other and God within us. I have trouble imagining a more desirable, beautiful community.
In verses 25-27, “25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
I don’t know where to begin – we have here evidence of sacrifice (Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her), a purifying of the body and soul (make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word), and a bride’s radiant, unblemished, unashamed presentation of herself to her husband, “holy and blameless” before him.
As we look at these commands, we must remember that God cares about how we act because when we are crucified and raised to life in Christ, our every action is a reflection not only of what God does, but of who He is. We are human lenses through which the world will see God. I firmly believe that the clearer our lenses are, the more the beauty of God will be visible through us.
Ephesians 5:1 calls us to “1Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
In sacrificial love, we are shining God’s love in a dark world. But what excites me more than anything else in this verse is that I have a chance to bring a single fragrant gift to God – myself. It overwhelms me to think that God recognizes and delights in what offering we can give – we who can but count our righteousness as rags before Him. Out of our rags, Christ-centered love can make a fragrant aroma that God can delight in.
The most awe-inspiring verse for me concerning God’s beauty is Psalm 104:32, that God is one “who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke”
Maybe it’s just me, but I picture a young bride trembling under the gaze of her lover and quivering at his touch – that is the full effect of the unveiled beauty of God upon this earth.
Now, when I think about the beauty of God, I think of a few things. I like to think of an early sunrise, where the first flare of sun, with its golds and yellows, contrasts with the purples and the violets of the moon and the night clouds still fading on the other side of the sky. I like to watch an athlete like Yuna Kim spinning into the air in a flurry of snow, ice, and the hope of a nation on her skates. I like to see into the eyes of an eighty-year old couple who are more in love than ever before. This is God’s beauty captured, moment by moment, on this earth. And when He comes again, wearing light as a garment, to take us home…I look forward to having my imagination blown away by His glory.