There’s this few-hundred year old maxim that goes thus: “Beauty is only skin-deep”.
What an ugly little saying.
Some things are only skin-deep.
Decoration is skin-deep.
Ornamentation is skin-deep.
Air-brushing and photo-shopping and cosmetic surgery is skin-deep.
But not beauty.
Beauty isn’t ornamental.
Beauty is essential.
It’s the opposite of skin-deep.
This is important because my friend and co-worker, Jimmy, and I have noticed a trend.
Trend is wrong.
Trends are only skin-deep.
This is less of a trend and more of a fundamental, epistemological phenomena.
People, especially young people, are talking more about beauty. Real beauty. Not the air-brushed variety, and neither the #nomakeupday #nofilter brand.
These crazy youngsters are talking about transcendental beauty.
They value it.
More importantly, they believe in it.
Jimmy told me that he recently watched a popular tv program that was discussing the merits of Christianity from a secular perspective. #qanda, if you’re interested. And on that program, much of the to-and-fro centred around the issue of beauty.
Is Christianity beautiful?
This is interesting because much of the debate on Christianity in the last couple of hundred years has been driven by those other ancient transcendentals: truth and goodness.
Which, dear reader, makes for an interesting opportunity.
In brand-speak, Christianity has a USP on their hands.
(FYI USP: Unique Selling Proposition.)
Because Christianity believes in beauty, just like you.
In a world that has tried to convince itself that beauty is only skin-deep, in a culture in which beauty has indeed been reduced to something epidermal and superficial and cosmetic, Christianity redeems beauty.
Not to sound trite, or Trump, but Christianity makes beauty beautiful again.
Of course, this high regard for beauty goes well beyond sentimentality. Swapping ephemeral beauty for essential beauty isn’t about mere aesthetics. Its deeper than all that.
Christians believe in transcendental beauty because, God is.
God is beautiful because God is Beauty.
The same way that God is loveable because God is Love.
Think about this:
That longing that you feel when you see the form of a beautiful person, a landscape, a piece of art, an infant’s fingernails… That unbidden longing that just is because the object of your longing just is beautiful…
That longing finds its completion and climax and fulfilment in transcendent beauty.
In the same way that the beautiful sunset you snapped on 'panorama mode' is an attractive but imperfect version of the real living, breathing landscape, so it is with beauty.
Beauty finds its consummation in God.
Which, by the way, is a wonderful aspect of the Gospel that we get to share with people. People who are, as Jimmy noted, unquestionably, and profoundly interested in beauty.
And this Beauty Gospel speaks to Christians too.
Christian, are you finding it hard to feel affection for God? Lacking in zeal to know Him? Feeling drawn to other gods and idols and images?
It may be because you stopped, or never started, seeing God as beautiful. Like, deeply beautiful. Like, beauty’s very essence. Like, the highest upward calling for your otherwise base affections.
In either case, believers and unbelievers need not look very hard to sight God’s beauty. One doesn’t have to strain to notice beautiful flowers or food or faces.
We’re tuned-in to beauty.
And if that’s true, all you need do is cast your eyes Heavenward. Which is to say, look to where God is. Where he has revealed Himself. Where he has unfurled His beautiful essence. You’ll find it in his Word and in His World.
Go. Seek. Find.