The Psalmist declared that there was one thing he desired: to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord (Ps. 27:4). The Psalms also declare that it is from God that perfect beauty comes (Ps. 50:2). Beauty, and our ability to appreciate it, seems to be a reflection of God's imprint upon us and our creation. For the hyper-naturalist, those who deny the existence of the super-natural, nothing has intrinsic beauty. That is: beauty is only in the eye of the beholder. But this reasoning flies in the face of what we have all experienced.
I remember coming back to Tasmania by plane having just travelled to several countries in South East Asia and marvelling just how beautiful it was. I could hear first time visitors to my state gasping and excitedly commenting to their travelling companions as they too gazed on the natural beauty of this island. It wasn't just that we had determined that what we were looking at was beautiful- it actually was beautiful!
But it's uncommon to (and bewildering that we don't) connect beauty with God more often than we do. In fact, sometimes we dismiss our craving for beauty and vainly try to convince ourselves that functionality is just as satisfying. But we all know that it's not! I suppose we could live in large boxes with concrete covering the surrounding ground and congratulate ourselves that we have been functional (economically and practically). But who wants to live like that? Most societies punish criminals with such conditions. No, we were made by Beauty, for Beauty to appreciate Beauty.
Humans, unlike animals, decorate for the sheer sake of beauty. A friend of mine just recently bought his first home. After twenty years of renting, he and his family have now moved into a small, modest house. I congratulated him on this move and commended him for such a prudent financial investment. His response was to dismiss the satisfaction that comes from having made a sound financial decision and glory in his new right to put a picture hook wherever he and his wife wanted! By being able to hang a picture, not just a picture- his chosen picture - he was now able to express what is common to us all: the need to beautify.
God celebrates his glory and power through beauty. He commanded that the garments for Priests be made "beautiful" (Exodus 28:2). So the next time you get frustrated that your surroundings are untidy or drab you are just expressing the trace of the image of God you bear. If you have felt guilty about taking time out to admire the beauty of nature, the genius beauty of an artist's work, the wonder of imaginative beauty in a novel or movie, don't. You are simply relishing that more-real component of your existence: the craving of your spirit for beauty. Perhaps you look at yourself and feel inferior in the beauty stakes? But the Scriptures declare that when it comes to forming opinions about human beauty, it does go beyond being merely skin-deep.
"You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." (1Pet. 3:4)
It seems that the God of all beauty has invested into each of us the potential to be wonderfully beautiful despite our physical short-comings. And for someone like me, I think that's a beautiful thought.