John Piper tells us that “the beauty of God is as pervasive and practical as the glory of God. If we admire the glory of God, we are admiring God’s beauty. If the glory of God has an effect in our lives, God’s beauty is having an effect. If God acts to magnify this glory, he is acting to magnify his beauty.” God is immensely beautiful. “God is God,” wrote Jonathan Edwards, “and distinguished from [that is, set apart from] all other beings, and exalted above ’em, chiefly by his divine beauty.” His beauty is seen throughout Scripture. Psalm 50:2 speaks of the perfection of His radiant beauty. Psalm 96:6 talks of the strength and beauty in His sanctuary. David writes that all he desires is to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him where He can be found. This beauty motivates us, drives us, and transforms us (2 Cor 3:18; cf. 1 John 3:2-3).
God’s beauty and glory are seen clearly in creation. The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). The radiance of a sunset, the power of a thunderstorm, the majesty of the mountains, and the vastness of the Pacific all give us a tiny glimpse into the beauty of our Creator. We see beauty in the human body and in the flowers that grow. This vision of God’s beauty affirms our internal need for relationship with the Beautiful One. The beauty of God is seen in what He creates.
Our Ugly Hearts and our Ugly Problem
The beauty and glory of God has been built into our hearts (Ecc. 3:11). Kyle Strobel asserts that “God created humanity that another being might partake in God’s goodness and delight”. He created our hearts to long for the satisfaction that God’s glory brings. The issue we run into is that sin has taken and twisted our view of beauty. Instead of seeing God’s holiness, perfection and glory as beautiful, we have exchanged that truth of beauty for a lie (Romans 1:18-24). Our sin in Genesis 3 eclipsed the beauty of God in our hearts. Sin entered the world and blinded us to His beauty. “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you” (Isaiah 59:2). Blindness to God’s beauty is at the root of all sin. We have redefined beauty in a way that is broken and lacking. Instead of going to the well that will never run dry, we go to broken cisterns that cannot satisfy (Jeremiah 2:13). We have refused what is free and what is fully satisfying only to spend our money on that which cannot fill us (Is. 55:1-2). The wickedness in our hearts doesn’t allow us to escape the wickedness we practice (Ecc 8:8). We must find a remedy for our ugly, broken hearts.
Salvation through the Beautiful One
We cannot fully understand and get past the brokenness of our sin and false view of beauty until we experience the new birth in Christ. Just as God created life in creation of the world, He speaks and creates life in our dead souls. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). He raises our souls from the dead (Eph 2:4-5), opens up the eyes of our hearts (Eph 1:18), and makes us new creations (Galatians 2:19-20). To become a follower of Christ is to see Christ crucified for sinners as compellingly and satisfyingly beautiful. Jonathan Edwards calls this vision “happifying”. Ultimately, as Piper says, “salvation is the transforming experience of the gracious radiance of the face of God.” “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:3). “Blessed are the people who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face” (Psalm 89:15). The Beautiful One, which is Christ, has made the broken beautiful in His sacrifice on the cross, and the Spirit has opened the believer’s heart to behold the beauty of God.
In the midst of beholding and understanding the beauty of who God is we become more and more like Christ. As we see and savor His beauty, we become more transformed into His image.“We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The more we look into the beauty of Jesus, the more we become beautiful as well. Paul instructs us in this in Phil 4:8, “Whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things”. Our beautiful salvation leads us to a beautiful sanctification. We are freed in Christ from being a slave to our broken definitions of beauty. We no longer are bound to earthly beauty but rather now adorn ourselves with a heavenly beauty (1 Peter 3:1-4). Men can no longer long after the fleeting beauty of a brand new F-150, but can look to the lasting beauty of Christ. Viewing Christ’s beauty correctly allows the “lesser” beauty of this world to be enjoyed properly. God’s creation is no longer simply beautiful in and of itself but rather it pushes us to worship the beautiful Creator. The beauty of moments in our lives push us to worship the Giver of Life. The beauty of our relationships push us to love well in the greatest relationship of all. We must set our minds on the things of the Spirit and not of the things of the flesh (Romans 8:5). We must set our eyes on the beautiful author and perfecter of our faith. He makes the broken beautiful.
A Beautiful End
In the end, we will be made fully beautiful forever. Our hope in the midst of our broken world is that we will someday be made fully beautiful eternally. This world is not the end. Christ is returning for His bride and we will be made whole on that day. Christ came so that we may see His glory fully. “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory” (John 17:24). “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Corinthians 13:12). “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Come quickly, Lord Jesus.