Her deadpan expression defies most modern definitions of beauty. Regardless, popular opinion does not determine the worth of the Mona Lisa; rather, the amount of money someone would pay does. In 1962, the Mona Lisa was valued at $100 million for insurance purposes. Adjusting for inflation, that makes her worth over $800 million today.
The defilement of humankind defies many definitions of beauty, but human reason does not determine our worth. According to the Source, the infinite God created humans in imago Dei, as finite icons to represent Him. He made masterpieces out of dust and His own breath, contouring countless shapes and colors. What is the worth of such living portraits? Priceless. What defines that worth? The willingness of the triune God to purchase them for an incalculable amount: the life of Christ.
“You were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Over the centuries the colors of the Mona Lisa fade to brown. Many believe she needs restoration, but they fear the work would destroy such a delicate piece. Despite her fragility and fading, beauty erupts from the Mona Lisa just as beauty and worth burst forth from humanity, despite our depravity.
Indeed, evil entered Eden, splattering the canvas of creation with sin. The vibrancy of creation faded and, while Christians believe it needs restoration, many don’t realize that in Christ, restoration is already underway. In Christ, God embraces the frailty of humanity: being born a baby, experiencing lack and limitations such as thirst and pain, and dying in isolation and humiliation. In Christ, God engages the depravity of humanity, being born a man, never sinning, and becoming sin so that those who believe “in him might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Christ, God shows His image openly to the human race and reminds us that the imprint of imago Dei never fades. In Christ, God provides a crown and inheritance that never fades (1 Peter 5:4).
Each year millions of people travel to the Louvre to glimpse the strokes of daVinci’s genius. They reverently hover around the Mona Lisa, appreciating her beauty and daVinci’s brilliance. Similarly, as we linger in the Scriptures or at sunsets, as we admire the strokes of God’s genius in our own backyards and bodies, we see evidence of the beauty of God and shine hope to a broken, yet beautiful humankind.