"And he spoke to me and said, 'come, I will show you the bride' " Revelation 21:9
I came across a very interesting entry this week on the Obscene Beauty blog page.
Entitled 'The Wright attitude to Imagination, Art and Beauty' (22/02/08), it sought to examine certain issues in a recent book, which included an examination of a Christian use of Imagination and engagement in the realms of art
(Link here: http://obscenebeauty.blospot.com)
After quoting at length from the book, Alister Roberts (the blog author) then made the following notes:
A further important point which bears repeating is that we don't live in Eden. Although most Christians would agree with this, many would perhaps suggest that paradise is the garden...one day, we'll all go back there...Yet to believe this is to fail to grasp a key theme in scripture. The story begins in a garden and ends in a city. God embraces culture, and brings paradise into its midst. Thus as we celebrate beauty and Hope in God, we must remember that this goes beyond images of flowers and waterfalls.
The author correctly notes that there lots more to say on this, and there are certainly a few further things we need to consider.
If we look at the passages in Romans and Revelation, for example, which speak about the new creation, we have to appreciate something equally as key - the paradise that is coming is not a segregation, but a fusion of all that God has made beautiful in its time - the glories of the natural order and the marvels of what has been made for us to fashion and enjoy, not a dualistic 'either/or'. This is inherent in the fact that on the 7th day, God blessed and hallowed creation itself, for the good work He had made was indeed something which pleases Him, so 'flowers and waterfalls' resonate with a theme which we ignore at our peril - they convey the fact that all things 'speak' of His glory (the significance of His presence, we touched on in my last blog).
When we speak of creation itself culminating in a 'city', it is a city of God, where rivers of water flow from the centre welling beneath the tree of life. The very 'walls' of this city are living, the whole structure profoundly and no doubt mysteriously tied to the work of Prophets and Apostles, Angels and Saints, and totally dependent upon the life which flows from the Lamb to the temple of 'living stones' (the community of the bride) at the heart of all of its commerce and growth - never has such a place been seen!
Whilst there is indeed a 'culture' at the heart of the New Jerusalem it is not one which will be alternative to the realities begun in Eden - it will, in fact, be the flowering of that glory.
All creation is waiting for it...