"Though every thing's broken, your beauty remains"
Whilst on a two-day photo project in Cornwall this week, I found myself seated near Padstow harbor amidst principally non-Christian friends, enjoying the warmth and the charm of the place as I tucked into a locally made pastie. As we ate and enjoyed the moment, one of my friends asked me a very deep question. He'd been considering the beauty of the almost idyllic scene before us, and asked me, as a believer, what I felt heaven had to offer beyond what we were encountering.
I sought to explain that surrounding us as keenly as the serenity we enjoyed was a universe in decay, a race in rebellion, a 'natural' condition in need of deep healing, and this is exactly what the Gospel promises - a realm in which all that is good and beautiful will be so without the current darkness, without the pain of corruption and evil.
The conversation then went on to familiar 'roundabout' questions with others who were present, but that initial question touched upon something I had been considering earlier in the week on the issue of beauty.
I'm currently reading Roger Scruton's study of the subject, and amidst many thought-provoking observations, he notes "We appreciate beautiful things not for their utility only, but also for what they are in themselves".
The thought immediately shunted my mind back to the seventh day of the first week of Creation.
Genesis informs us that God inhabits this day, as He is 'refreshed' by the goodness, the beauty of all He has made. This 'inhabiting' sanctifies the day, filling it with the weight and significance of holiness, that sublime, supreme aspect of the character of the persons of the Godhead.
We live in age where so much of what is defined as elegant and even beautiful is only done so in a detached, utilitarian manner - it is 'function' that counts, but on that day, it was the inherent goodness of all things that so delighted it's designer.
We all depend upon the 'use-ability' of the realm around us - our environment, our bodies, the functional aspects of life, but all these 'good gifts', sent from above, are not merely a device for our well-being; they were made to serve a higher purpose, to 'glorify' their maker - something currently hindered by our fall from that original goodness tasted in Eden.
The view at Padstow was splendid, and rightly caused my friend to ponder on the place of such beauty, but the true wonder has yet to be seen, soon to be made evident in the Lord Jesus Christ.