In a recent conversation with someone struggling to believe the whole Christian thing, I made this statement:
The whole thing is about creating beauty – that’s what we’re all here for.
To be honest, I hadn’t thought out this idea in a journal or in a conversation with a friend. It just came out.
The blessing of not having a clue, I suppose.
As I think about it these days, I’m beginning to think more and more about beauty because it is so difficult to find.
Our politics aren’t beautiful.
Our relationships aren’t all that beautiful.
Even what we consider art and creativity struggles to press through to the level of being beautiful.
Beauty is a lost virtue – lost because we’ve traded beauty for functionality. We’ve traded what lifts our hearts and spirits for what works best in situations and what addresses our immediate problems with solutions. In doing so, we’ve settled for the short work of satisfaction and not the long night of beauty.
Food becomes cheaper and faster – so much that a famous chef said that America has no cuisine, other than “cheap ingredients in huge portions.” Cuisine is beauty with style, substance, technique and intentionality, and that necessarily means it is simpler and smaller and harder to come by.
The work of spiritual formation, of allowing our desires and directions to be shaped around the invitations of Jesus and caring for the soul that carries us, is a work of beauty.
It is long work, like farming.
It is deep like loving difficulty and difficult people.
It is strong like stone and bone.
A life of faith that chases beauty is one that understands Jesus to be, more than anything else, a bringer of beauty.
God made the world with order, however you believe that happened – or perhaps He only gave chaos order, again, that’s up to you but the point being that order has a beauty to it.
There’s a connectedness, intentionality – life under God is a cuisine of the finest sort.
Jesus invites, demonstrates, and teaches a way that finds ultimate joy in giving the world beauty.
People chasing after Jesus should be people who traffic in beauty.
What if we saw every word of forgiveness, every act of generosity, every quiet moment of prayer and every brain cell we give to ancient wisdom and sacred texts as primarily a revolutionary act of generating and sustaining beauty?
What if the goal is a legion of beautiful souls, filling cracks and crevices darkened by loss and strain with the kind of light that presses through anything and illuminates everything?
What would we know, what cuisine would we share at this great Table made for every tribe, tongue, nation and people, what kind of heart would beat in our chests then that we haven’t quite grasped up until now?
Is it possible that the kingdom of heaven is ultimately the unfiltered reign of beauty?