By: Maria Fee
I recently posed the question to a group of artists, why does art matter to God? To my surprise, only one respondent employed the word beauty. Beauty is, forgive the term, out of fashion. Indeed, Crispin Sartwell surmises that the declined value of beauty has much to do with its association concerning pleasure. Sartwell asserts that beauty arouses longing. Thus, Christians’ anxiety with inordinate desires discourages any trek into the territory of beauty. But it’s interesting how the contemporary secular world is just as fearful of beauty as its Christian counterpart. Perhaps this worldly wariness stems from frustration. Beauty produces a longing for perfection, which eventually, leads to dissatisfaction, then topples into cynicism.
How can Christians invest in the beautiful without despairing over desires and disappointments? Let’s follow the lead of the artist who waxes, “One thing I ask of the LORD…that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” In Psalm 27 desire and beauty are bound up together in the life-long pursuit of knowing God. Therefore, by knowing true Beauty, Christians should be at the forefront of reviving beauty for the rest of the world.
What about combating the world’s dissatisfaction with beauty? Again, we need to follow the artist who proclaimed in the same psalm: “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” To gaze upon the beauty of the LORD will melt away the dissatisfaction and pessimism produced by our longing for perfection. Christians must live and create in the humbling light of true Beauty. True Beauty is our salvation for he accepts our pauper state—that fact that we are not fully clothed in glory—yet.
Seek Beauty. Live and work knowing one day we’ll be wholly wrapped in His splendor.