Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote, “Beauty is the battlefield where God and Satan contend for the hearts of men.” Beauty is powerful and persuasive. When it touches the heart, it brings perspective—it can even inspire the heart to courage. King David, when speaking of the pressures, the persecutions, and death threats he faced (Psalm 27:1–3), said that despite it all, his heart was filled with confidence and courage. David’s courage was found in living a life of discovering and exploring the beauty of God (verse 4). That aim became the single greatest focus in David’s life, which was to know, see, and experience the glory of the Beautiful God.
We live in a time of increasing tumult in the world. We see acts of terror, hear of rumors of wars, witness moral confusion in and outside the church as well as flash points of racial conflicts and anti-Semitism. There is also the distortion of God’s grace and false unity among monotheistic faiths. In many ways we are living in similar days as the year of King Uzziah’s death (Isaiah 6:1). Uzziah’s death meant that Israel became vulnerable to military attack, economic decline, and moral confusion. Isaiah wrote that in that season he saw a vision of Jesus’ glory (John 12:41) high and lifted up with angels around His throne declaring to each other the majestic splendor of His beauty. This is where we want to find ourselves in this hour—beholding Jesus’ beauty.
The Holy Spirit’s primary agenda is to establish the first commandment in the first place by revealing in us the beauty of Christ Jesus. The enemy’s strategy is to cause God’s people to grow sluggish (Hebrews 6:11–12). The greatest temptation under the growing spiritual, political, and moral pressure is the temptation to quit our wholehearted pursuit of Christ Jesus. The knowledge of God in Christ is the Father’s primary strategy to establishing the first commandment in the first place (John 17:26).
In the midst of the growing crisis, connecting our heart with the beauty of Christ is essential, because the revelation of Christ, intimacy with God, is the Holy Spirit’s onramp to that which invigorates and exhilarates our spirit to grow in love for God. The knowledge of God releases might in our inner being that we might endure pressure. As the people of God, when our hearts are connected with the beauty of Christ, they will burn with a love that no waters or floods of socio-political, moral, or spiritual pressure could snuff out (Song of Solomon 8:7; Luke 24:32).
Christ is so remarkable He is indescribable (Ephesians 3:8). It is the Father’s good pleasure to reveal His Son in us (Galatians 1:15–16). It is the Father’s greatest delight to speak in us and through us about His Son (Isaiah 42:1, Matthew 3:17). The Father is filled with infinite delight towards His Son (Psalm 36:8) He loves to speak in us about Him. When we open our heart to God and His written Word and God the Father, through God the Spirit, reveals in us God the Son, I believe that this is a sure way to experience spiritual delights. Jesus is the Father’s final decree. The revelation of God’s beauty is our portion in this life. In the generation of the Lord’s return, the world will witness the greatest display of Jesus’ beauty (Isaiah 4:2), proclaimed by the Church (Ephesians 3:8), as He administrates the purposes of His Father in the world (Isaiah 33:17).
The discovery of God’s beauty requires an intentional response to God’s beckoning. Paul told the church of Philippi that it involved forgetting the past—a daily reaching by saying yes to God’s ways and pressing onward in the midst of the mundane and pressures of life. This was Paul’s number one priority: to know the excellency of Christ (Philippians 3:8, 13). The beauty of God refers to the understanding of God’s personality (attributes), God’s power, and God’s purpose as found in the Word of God. We discover Jesus’ beauty through long and loving meditation on God’s Word. It will require an intentional setting of the heart and life to go after this. David said it was the overriding issue in his life. He declared:
One thing [primary thing] I have desired [strongly want] of the Lord, that will I seek [the effort to discover]: that I may dwell [lifestyle] in the house of the Lord all the days of my life [lifelong], to behold [meditate, worship] the beauty of the Lord [knowledge of God], and to inquire [search out] in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)
Our primary destiny in this life is to, in some measure, live exhilarated in the wonder of who Christ is as well as in fullness in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:7). Thomas Dubay wrote:
One step further, a long step beyond even the inexpressible heights of mystical prayer on earth: the beatific vision in glory. This direct seeing of the endlessly lovely Trinity face to face, and without any mediating concept or idea whatever, is eternally, absolutely unending. We shall never exhaust the wonder, the dazzlingly enthralling drinking of limitless Beauty. Indeed, “eye has not seen, nor ear heard nor can we even imagine what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The reason is that he has prepared Himself, endless enthrallment. Heaven is eternal ecstasy. (The Evidential Power of Beauty [Ignatius Press, 1999], 44)
What can you do to grow in the knowledge of Christ’s beauty?
For more by Stuart Greaves, we recommend False Justice: Unveiling the Truth About Social Justice. Gain a Christ-focus and biblical backing needed to form a right and godly mindset regarding social justice. Learn more >>