While theology helps us understand art and why it inspires, the arts help us understand the works of God. For example, Paul incorporated secular poetry in his gospel presentation to nonbelievers in Athens, declaring that God created mankind “to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring’” (Acts 17:26–28 esv).
Both God and art seek to make us more fully human, to knit us with our creatureness, empower us to express ourselves, and equip us to explore creation and Creator. Both God and art move us out and open us up.
Both God and art lead us to experiences of great profundity wherein we lose the ability to speak. We stand in wonder on Christmas Day and before the Eiffel Tower. We become speechless while gazing at a rose or a Rembrandt. All the while, God and art give us a voice, a deep and confident connection to our true selves. We use that voice to share the discoveries made in exploring the mysteries and truth of God (1 Corinthians 2:13). You see, God operates in truth, which includes both mystery and knowledge. And where artists follow suit, they glorify Him. Otherwise, they merely make idols (Habakkuk 2:18–20).
One way to explore the beauty of God is by taking nature walks. Could you pause, leave technology and to-dos behind, and take a walk outdoors for thirty minutes or an hour? Take a deep breath. If you can, take off your shoes. Take a moment and pray: God, I come to gaze upon Your beauty. I come to pitch a tent and stay a while in Your presence. I want to feel, see, and know more of You. Speak, Lord, for I am listening.
As you walk, forget trying to reach a destination. Just meander. Just explore. Let blades of grass tickle your toes. Watch a bumblebee go about her business of pollination. Drink from the Big Dipper. Settle into the arms of an elm tree. Let the sun showcase its light. Sit. Look up and listen as “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 esv). As you linger in the gallery of the great Artist, use your voice to offer praise for His “invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature” clearly visible in “what has been made” (Romans 1:19–20).
SUMMARY AND REFLECTION
“God needs no audience for His beauty; He enjoys it and creates with it, apart from any applause. And yet, He calls us to celebrate and participate in His beauty, to cultivate creativity with Him. As His followers, created imago Dei, we study beauty, learning that even though creation is disordered by the fall, the resurrection of Christ lights the pathway of its restoration. Sin splatters the canvas of God’s creation, and yet beauty remains visible, tangible, and audible to all who will lean in, look up, and listen. As His followers, we steward beauty, realizing that the wholeness, harmony, and pleasure of God is implanted within us and bursts forth into a world filled with disorder, chaos, and suffering. As His followers, we soldier for beauty, fighting the propaganda and dehumanization of Satan with the truth of God’s Word and dependence upon His Spirit. God’s call to study, steward, and soldier beckons us beyond our individualism into the togetherness of community, where we experience the miraculous. God beautifies brokenness by transforming hopelessness into faithfulness and injustice into righteousness. We receive the impartation of Christ internally, and we reflect His character externally and eternally. For all eternity we will cultivate beauty with Christ, who is beauty itself.”