Friday, January 3, 2014

The Beauty of God

By Reverend Mark Hunnemann

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

"One  thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after: 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 inquire in His temple." 
(Psalm 27:4) 

Aesthetics is that branch of philosophy which deals with theories of beauty. At the beginning of 2014 I want to try and paint a picture of God's unspeakably infinite beauty.

I think it is safe to say that we all know beauty when we see or hear it, but it is a bit more of a challenge explaining what beauty IS. For example a beautiful sunset, a beautiful song, a beautiful woman, a beautiful novel, and so on. What is it that all representations of beauty seem to have in common?

When our children were young, we took great delight in the simple beauty of their stick figures. They somehow learned instinctively that symmetry was part of their goal to make the picture "pretty for mommy". I remember my children's stick figure drawings with much fondness, as I'm sure you do.

Consider other expressions of beauty. Normally, the more complex the beauty, the more intense it is. There is simple beauty and their is complex beauty...the more complex, the more beautiful it appears. For example, we marvel at the extraordinary wonderment of Michelangelo's "David".  Or we think of Rembrandt and how his balancing of light with dark was genius and the result was complex, intense beauty.

Think of a symphony, the more instruments you have playing in sync with each other, the more extraordinary the beauty. Personally, I am more into classic rock. My favorite band is the Allman Brothers. Most bands have one lead guitarist and one drummer (in addition to a bassist and others), but they were blessed with two of the best guitarists--the late Duane Allman and Dickie Betts. Their guitar inter-play was almost transcendental at times--to me anyway! Have you ever had the experience of listening to music that affected you so profoundly, that you forgot you were listening, and were transported up into the music itself?

The key is taking all the disparate elements and bringing them ultimately together--resolution. A simple but beautiful floral design is made more intensely beautiful by adding more color and intricacy to the design. A really good  movie (the Hebrew word for good and beauty are from same root) or beautiful play or novel is where all these sub-plots are intricately woven together and resolved by the end....leaving no loose threads or irresolution.Symphony and not cacophony!  Twice in the Song of Solomon the same Hebrew word for beauty is used that is in Psalm 27:4 for God....and both lovers describe the traits that make the other so beautiful and desirable. Notice the focus on symmetry in their descriptions.

Asymmetry sticks out like a sore thumb.I am thinking of Satan now as "pure ugly"...his soul is misshapen and assymetrized.

What happens when you  have infinite complexity and symmetry? This where it gets exciting--there is INFINITE BEAUTY. That kind of beauty would certainly blur the distinction between sight and sensation!

Some of God's attributes seem so polar opposite,making Him appear at first glance, as asymmetrical. (e.g. wrath/hatred and mercy/love) "Note then the kindness and severity of God..." (Rom.11:22) However, when put together, there is infinite,complex beauty! Like a rainbow, here is a list of some God's attributes...which taken together are astonishingly beautiful!

God is transcendent and immanent
infinity and immensity (all of God is everywhere)
immutability and His emotions.
unity (one God) and His tri-personality as Trinity
omniscience, omnipotence, wisdom, truth
goodness, love, grace, mercy, hesed, holiness, righteousness, justice, and glory
sovereignty of God and our moral responsibility
heaven and hell....blessing and cursing.

All these traits are in perfect balance...symphonic symmetry in infinite complexity and intensity.God's beauty is primary and all human beauty is derivitive from Him.

In Rev. 4--5  Jesus is revealed as a Victorious Lamb, but who has the scars of having been slain. We blink, and this Lamb is now the mighty Lion of the tribe of Judah. Such is the incredible complexity of the Person and Work of Christ.

So that is why the beatific vision has always been considered the most wonderful experience of heaven...seeing Jesus face to face. It seems that human language is not adequate to convey the infinitely complex, infinitely intense beauty of our ascended Savior!

Every experience of beauty here on earth is momentary, and reflects a longing for heaven. As we gaze upon the infinitely complex  intense beauty of God, every pore of our being will dance with sheer pleasure and delight. It will be ravishing and unending delight.

The next time you experience the pleasure of beauty, let it turn your heart in contemplation of the beauty of God...and worship Him!

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