Simply Christian: Beauty

The final leg of N.T. Wright’s formation of Christian faith is beauty. Wright concludes that throughout history people of faith have been drawn to relationship with God through the beauty of the earth, the beauty seen in humanity, and the beauty humanity creates with the help of God through the Holy Sprit! This sounds harder to explain than it actually is to experience. I have two examples from my summer adventures.

1: The Fraley family (my In-laws) gets together every Fourth of July. One of the budding traditions is running the Bluegrass 10000. This year I was undertrained, but no less ready to compete. As we went walking along side thousands of others toward the starting blocks in downtown Lexington Kentucky, I noticed a painting taking up the entire side of a building. It was Abraham Lincoln as we see him depicted at the Washington D.C. Lincoln Memorial. This depiction is flowing with what appears paper mache coloring jumping off the wall. The colors are bright and full and capture both the postmodern expression of art with the classic roman columns of the Lincoln memorial. Behind President Lincoln are red white and blue rays shining depicting a very American flair fit for a city teeming with American pride. Each year we venture down for the race I am in awe of such a beautiful piece of artwork displayed in
such a public way.

2: Visiting my parents in Florida this summer (I know, I’m lucky!) I was able to spend some time at the pool beside the Gulf of Mexico looking at the beautiful ocean. I saw something I have never seen before, the glass like effect when no waves crash ashore. The ocean was so calm they had the green flag out, the one that let’s you know it is safe to swim. I had never seen it before. As I stared at the vastness of the ocean and the calm it presented I couldn’t help but think about the hope in the promise we have of the river of life cutting through the heart of eternity when God restores the heavens and earth together.

N.T. Wright suggests that both point to the beauty of God: the new artwork created
by the hands of man and the glassy ocean created by the hands of God. Each brings about beauty that point people to something more, something holy:

As you are out hurrying toward the tasks middle August and beginning of September bring, take time to notice God’s beauty and then give thanks to God. If for some reason you are not overwhelmed, consider creating something beautiful for God and so others might come to know God better.

For the Kingdom,
Jonathan Barlow