I’ve been reading a book entitled “The Good and Beautiful God,” by James Bryan Smith, with some men at our church.
Before we even hit the table of contents, there were a couple of hurdles for the group to get over.
First, on the cover, there is a picture of a cluster of peaches. “What kind of guy book has peaches on the cover?” one of the men demanded to know! (I think it has to do with the fruit of the Spirit, but that’s for another musing . . .)
Second, and more challenging, how many guys think of God as beautiful? Certainly, we can think of a newborn baby as beautiful, we’re willing to admit that a sunset is beautiful But a beautiful God? Who among us would describe God in such a way, especially a God we cannot see? And what difference would it make for us, man or woman, to think about God as beautiful?
Well, the historic Christian tradition might be helpful to us here, for it describes the unique, historic person of Jesus as the “visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). Moreover, it declares that the knowledge of God’s glory can be seen in the face of this Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6).
If “glory” is an older word that has beauty at its heart, what we’re hearing is that we can come to understand and know God as beautiful as we come to understand and know Jesus. Yes, we can see something of God’s beauty in creation, which reflects God’s character, just like a work of art reflects something of the painter or sculptor. But Jesus makes that character, that beauty, personal. Jesus reveals to us not just how to observe that beauty but the depth of it, as well as how we can enter into a relationship with it.