Beauty

Tuesday Devotional: Ezekiel 43

Read Ezekiel 43bible

1Then the man brought me to the gate facing east, and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. 

We are easily overcome by two things: what is powerful and what is beautiful.  When we are in the presence of something more powerful than we are, it is easy to submit to its power.  When we are in the presence of something more beautiful than we are, it is easy to submit to its beauty.  When Ezekiel had this vision he noticed the power of God’s voice and then he noticed the radiant glory that His presence brought to the land.  Many of us have read the Bible and have yet to experience the power of God’s voice.  Why is that?

Perhaps we must ask ourselves if we even want to experience the power of God’s voice as it is meant to be heard.  Or do we know that to hear the voice of God unobstructed might mean that the authority of His power and voice would override ours, and tell us what we don’t actually want to hear? Might that voice lead us where we don’t ever want to go?  There is undeniable power in hearing the uncompromised voice of the living God, and there is unavoidable authority with that power.  If we want to experience the power of the living Word and the voice of God we must listen to Him.  If we listen to Him, we will be overpowered by Him.  Not the power that takes life, but a power that transforms and creates NEW life.

Many of us have sought God in our spirit and in the Bible and have found nothing but a judgmental, angry and violent God.  We have yet to find the beauty that Ezekiel witnessed in this vision.  How can we experience His beauty?  The first answer seems obvious.  First, we have to look at Him.  We cannot rely on the second-hand illustrations and compositions, and testify to have seen God and an ugly God for that matter.  We have to gaze upon the LIVING God as He was and is.  If we observe His anger, ask yourself, “Why is He angry?”  If you observe His violence and anger, ask yourself, “What preceded His anger and violence?”  “Was He always angry?”  “What made him angry and was the violence justified?”

To know God’s beauty we have to look upon God and witness Him completely.  Second, we have to see His impact on His surroundings.  Notice that verse one did not merely say that He possessed glory but that He brought glory to the land.  Something of beauty beautifies its surroundings.  People will climb up dangerous, foreboding cliffs in order to capture a photo of a rare and stunning plant or animal.  Something of beauty brings out the beauty in the things that it encounters.  God does not simply desire that we find Him beautiful.  He desires that we see His beauty in creation and that through His creation we ultimately see Him as the most glorious figure in our lives.  To know God is to know His power and be overcome by it.  However, without an awe for His beauty and the beauty of all He touches we cannot attest to having known Him as He is.

Tuesday Devotional: 2 Corinthians 2-3

Read 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:18bible

The human heart longs for beauty.  We seek it every day of our lives, and we recognize it when we see or experience it.  It is no coincidence that we are taken aback by the beauties in nature or in the human spirit.  While many differences separate us, we all find a commonality in this search for and discovery of beauty.  Found in the message of Christ is the epitome of beauty.  At the heart of the Gospel is the story of a God who has never given up on his children. Due to his desire to witness his love for them manifested and recreated in their relationships with each other, he even sacrificed his own Son to accomplish his objective.  The message of the Gospel is radical and incomprehensible love.  It is heart wrenching self-sacrifice for the undeserving and unfaithful.  It is intimacy, healing and peace.  This Gospel in its essence unaided, unaltered and uncompromised is beautiful and sweet to the one who finds it.  Every human being is seeking this message in the deep recesses of the heart.  But our every attempt to fulfill our desires through worldly means fails, leaving us rethinking our plans to fill this void.  Like a hole in a leaky roof, this void in the human heart can only be filled by something its precise shape and size.  The void is the result of our rejection of the Father’s love, and therefore the only thing that can heal that void is precisely that, the Father’s love.  Other solutions will temporarily mend the wound, but over time weaknesses will cause the gradual deterioration of the heart.

The message and life of Christ is “a sweet fragrance”: however, this fragrance is a delicate one.  In the control of our sinful tendencies, the sweet aroma of the Gospel can quickly become the stench of something we would rather avoid.  The aroma of the Gospel is only preserved through the Word of God, handed down to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The aroma of the Gospel, represented in the lives of those who profess faith in it, will only be sweet if the Holy Spirit has transformed those lives as well.  Anything short of this will result in sinful men speaking to sinful men as sinful men, incapable of spreading a message that was not from men to begin with.   Allowing the Holy Spirit to speak for himself, allowing Him to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, will unleash that beautiful aroma that we all crave.