B is for Beauty

PreachingLk24onApr19,2014Please critique what I wrote for my sermon tomorrow: B is for Beauty.

Thanks for the helpful comments last week on A is for Accountability. As a result I stressed how important it is regarding who we choose to be accountable to. This resonated with some as they lamented that what they had shared in confidence was used against them. Regarding accountability I asked three questions during the sermon:

  1. Do you have a Nathan? (Who are you accountable to?)
  2. Are you a Nathan? (Who are you accountable for?)
  3. Do you know your ultimate Nathan, who did not confront you for your sins, but died for your sins?

My short (and incomplete) answers are my wife, my friends and my Jesus.

After the sermon an elder of our church confessed publicly to the entire congregation about an episode from three decades ago where he became a father before he married his present wife. He had not planned to say this, but was prompted to share it as he heard my sermon. He wanted to be accountable to the church for what he had done. It was a tender moment and full of the grace of our Lord.

Two sisters in Christ who previously misunderstood each other both decided to be accountable for each other. They began to share with each other freely what was in their hearts, which they could not do so before. I believe that accountability must be driven by the gospel and the Spirit and not ourselves.

The three parts of my sermon on Beauty (using the word loosely) are:

  1. Wired for beauty.
  2. Deceived by beauty.
  3. Restored through beauty.

God created us to love and to be loved by him. We were created to be fulfilled and attracted to God through all of creation that reflects his goodness and majesty. But we were deceived by counterfeit beauties and brought endless tragedy and woe upon ourselves. Now, only through the ultimate beauty of God expressed through the gospel can we ever be restored, redeemed and reconciled.

My plan is to share how Isaac was deceived by the “beauty” of his older twin son Esau and showed favoritism to him over Jacob, which damaged both sons. Esau became arrogant. Jacob became wounded. In searching for the love of his father that he never experienced, Jacob was deceived by the “beauty” of Rachel and then by her son Joseph, which wounded and nearly destroyed his entire family of 12 sons. Despite such deep seated multi-generational pathology, God extended grace upon grace in order to bring to fruition his plan of redemption, which would ultimately cost him His Son. This is the beauty of redemption that can restore us and compel us to gaze on the beauty of the Lord all the days of our life (Ps 27:4).

I was transformed through the majestic beauty of God who loved me unconditionally and showed me mercy, forgiveness and grace despite myself. I regard it as my mystical conversion.

My hope and prayer is that through my sermon we may be enamored and enraptured by the beauty of God through Christ. Did I succeed?

10 comments

  1. redeemed1

    Wow! So great to hear that your church has been “knit together in love” where this kind of accountability between members can happen. That sounds like beauty to me.

    About beauty, I would say that if we are not restored through beauty we grow to hate it, because it alone can never fulfill the longings of our hearts. Joseph’s brothers hated him because he was beautiful to his father. Jesus’ beautiful love for children and the poor and for his Father made people hate him. To be restored through the beauty of Christ and his life and death and resurrection, one must first recognize and admit to his beauty.

  2. Ben, it was refreshing to hear this sermon yesterday. Your worship service at WL was peaceful, Christ-honoring and enjoyable. I was happy to think about beauty without pressure to “accept truth”. And I always look forward to Henry’s benediction, which gives a sense of royalty to your service– a reminder that we are under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

    I really enjoyed talking with MJ in person as well as Rhoel and Michael and everyone. It is also commendable that Rhoel and WL people are willing to worship with such a “bitter, evil, anti-christ” ex-ubfer like me! I appreciate the transformation at WL more than any of you could ever imagine. God-speed and God bless!

  3. forestsfailyou
    forestsfailyou

    When are we meeting BK?
    On the topic of the article, when I think of beauty what comes to mind for me (and I suspect others) are two things; first physical attractiveness, and secondly some scenic landscape or tranquil pond. They are both natural properties, they come from nature. We must be careful when talking about nature because nature does not teach us anything about God or salvation. It simply gives us images to clothe our own ideas and morals in. Nature will only teach you what you want to know, which is another way of saying it does not teach anything at all.

    As Christians beauty, as is with nature, a creation of God. Beauty is product of his creation in its perfect finished form.

    I think you can go father in your explanations Ben.

    When you say we are wired for beauty you are correct, but I might go farther and just say “we are created beautiful”. When you say we are deceived by beauty you are right, but we can say that our beauty being an image of God was taken for the thing itself and became a destroyer. When you say we are restored through beauty you are correct, but I might go farther with a metaphor, which came to me from Athanasius. He said that when you have a portrait and it becomes dirty and stained you cannot simply try to clean it. It will never become beautiful again. Instead you must bring the person back in and repaint the portrait. In the same way God could not just try to “clean up mankind” they would fall again. So he became a man, a perfect man, as an example to us. The original image of the creator of beauty itself.

    • You do sound quite exquisitely Lewisian! Though I love and appreciate it, I am probably not familiar nor eloquent nor poetic enough to express beauty in such richly and textured metaphorical ways!

  4. big bear

    True beauty in Christ love…it is through His love that all things reflect His beauty and we see beauty….this is why God people must learn to love people not agendas, church rules and look down on other churches and believers….it is impossible to see beauty outside love…it does not please God to be religious…

  5. Charles Wilson
    Charles Wilson

    Hi Ben, I find this to be a very fascinating topic. Your reference to Ps 27:4, gazing on beauty, brought to mind a verse from Keats’ poem Ode on a Grecian Urn, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” It is interesting that, as you mentioned, the deception in the garden involved what was pleasing to the eye. It was beautiful to them, but the beauty they saw didn’t carry inherent value that they should follow after it. It just was what it was, pleasing to the eye. Yet Isaiah 53:2 speaks of the suffering servant as having no beauty to attract us to him that we should desire him, though Jesus, who fulfills Isaiah’s vision of the suffering servant, is the very one we should desire and follow.

    This brings me back to my college days, when I went through so many courses on the topics of beauty and truth in literature. One course compared the Romantic / Grecian view of beauty to the Hebraic view of beauty (what is holy is beautiful). The Jews gave a lot of attention to beautify holy things. Though I do see a common element from both point of views in that beauty is found in what is lasting. Here’s a link to an interesting article on a contemporary Jewish perspective of the ancient conflict between Jews and Greeks, especially regarding beauty.

    When I was 17, I found beauty in Christ, being attracted to his words which spoke the truth to me about God and his people, from Matthew 9:12-13.

  6. Joe Schafer

    Ben, are you preaching today? C is for Cookie.

  7. I didn’t think of Cookie, a good one! My options for C were Confession, Christ, Church, Creation, Conflict Resolution and Cutie. I settled for: http://westloop-church.org/index.php/messages/old-testament/11-psalms-messages/365-c-is-for-community

  8. Joe Schafer

    I have discovered that if we really want learn about Christian community, we have to go to Bonhoeffer, Nouwen, Vanier and other sources outside the evangelical world. For the last century, evangelicals have emphasized individual models of evangelism and discipleship so much — along with the message of penal substitution and hyper-individualized concepts of sin — that they really have lost sight of the community dimensions of the gospel.