My sophomore year of college, I got to travel to Ireland for a semester-long study abroad program. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Ireland remains the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. My classmates and I studied Irish history and Irish literature, and spent a lot of time traversing the Emerald Isle. Like never before, I enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation. Rolling green meadows and stunning views from Irish beaches, I knew God had made Ireland beautiful, and I was glad for the opportunity to enjoy it. Years later, I still remember back to those days. I remember the people and the places. I remember the friends and professors who invested in our lives. But most of all, I remember the beauty.
In my previous posts (Part 1 and Part 2) I’ve intentionally taken a cautious tone. I focused primarily on the dangers associated with the exaggeration of physical beauty. My main concern was and is that many settle for shadows of true beauty and ignore its source. All beauty appropriately points us to the beauty of our Creator. Whether we enjoy a beautiful sunset, a beautiful garden or beautiful person, we miss the point if we fail to consider the One who made all things beautiful.
As the great Puritan thinker Jonathan Edwards once wrote,
When we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ; when we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see his love and purity. So the green trees and fields, and singing of birds, are emanations of his infinite joy and benignity; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines [are] shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and murmuring streams have the footsteps of his sweet grace and bounty.
Edwards explained that beauty should always point us to God. Several comments on previous posts also made this point. The beauty of this world is a mere foretaste of the beauty that fills heaven. Beauty isn’t something God meant to be hidden, but is meant to increase our hunger. Like a small child who tastes steak for the first time and is no longer satisfied with the bits of hot dog on his plate, we must not let ourselves settle.
All those who call Christ Savior and Lord should consider if they use gifts like physical beauty to point others toward God or draw them away from Him. Take a second and answer these questions for yourself. As you engage with the world, do you use the beauty you’ve been given to make God look good, or do you use it to make yourself look good? When someone compliments your beauty, do you take it as an appraisal of yourself or as an appraisal of a gift you’ve been given?
Like all gifts, we should strive to use them evangelistically. Have you ever considered how you might use your physical beauty and the attention it affords to help fulfill the Great Commission? Many Boundless readers are very beautiful — not because of anything they’ve done or genetics — but as a gift from God. Just as some misuse their beauty to gain attention for themselves, Christ followers should use their beauty to point people to their beautiful God. I believe our beauty is not about us, as much as it’s about pointing people to the beautiful One who has made us beautiful.
I can think of many people I know who use their internal and external beauty to point people toward God in the same ways others use other gifts to create beautiful things. Artists, teachers, servants, writers and people of all giftings have similar opportunities to use their talents and abilities to point people to God, because God made beauty to be captivating.
I imagine there may be some who read this and don’t feel very beautiful. Maybe you’ve always been frustrated with your appearance. Perhaps you hate this topic, because it reminds you of comparisons and pain. To those who don’t feel like they measure up and wonder why God didn’t make you more beautiful, take heart; you are beautiful. You may not be the next super model, but you do have gifts from God and a beautiful future. As Daniel prophesied, those who turn many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:3). Even so, we should all look forward to sharing in the beauty of Christ when He appears (1 John 3:2).
God calls all people to use their lives to make much of Him and desires that all people see and enjoy His captivating beauty. Whatever gifts He has graciously given you, use them to show the worth of the Giver. The best thing we can do with the gift of beauty is to show the beauty of God. So when people are captivated by your beauty, point them to the One who made you beautiful.
What are ways you’ve found to use beauty to point people to Christ?