Best of Daily Reflections: Beauty as a Signpost to God, Part 1
Above the entrance, from the interior to the exterior of the temple, and on every interior and exterior wall, there were carved winged creatures and palm trees. The palm trees were positioned between the winged creatures, and each winged creature had two faces.
In the past several days, I have been considering whether it's appropriate to display art in spaces set aside for worship. Along the way, I shared my experience of dealing with this question as pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. Before we move on from Ezekiel 41:17-18, I want to add a few thoughts on beauty as a signpost to God.
For most of my life, I have been deeply moved by beauty, especially natural beauty. I believed that the glory of the world reflected God's creative excellence, and I often thanked him for his creation. But, only in the past years have I reflected more on how beauty acts as a signpost to God.
For one thing, the fact that human beings can perceive beauty strongly points to the existence of a creator who made beautiful things and endowed us with the ability to perceive them as beautiful. Oh, I expect that some have tried to explain our love for beauty in light of atheistic evolutionary development. But it requires more faith in nature than I can muster to believe that we just happened to evolve as beings who appreciate beauty. I find it much more credible to see our aesthetic ability as a result of God's creating us in his own image.
Thus, the beauty of this world, combined with our delight in it, points to the existence of a creator who loves beauty and who made us as lovers of beauty as well. This is not a strict proof of the existence of God. But it is, as N.T. Wright says in Simply Christian, a "signpost" pointing to God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever thought of your perception of beauty as evidence of God's existence? What difference might it make in your life if you took to heart the fact that God loves beauty and made you to love it too?
PRAYER: Gracious God, for decades I have thanked you for the beauty of your creation. Even today, as I look at the deep blue sky and the bright green leaves outside of my window, I am grateful for this beautiful world.
But, in a new way, I have come to be thankful, not just for beauty, but also for the ability to perceive it. Indeed, you could have made this world with a glory that you alone could enjoy. But you have graciously shared it with us by endowing us with the ability to delight in beauty. Thank you, O God, for this marvelous gift. Amen.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.