What Is Beauty? A Christian Creative’s Perspective

What Is Beauty? A Christian Creative’s Perspective May 6, 2024

What Is Beauty? Leaf Detail photo by the Author
What Is Beauty? Leaf Detail photo by the Author

I was asked this question today. What Is Beauty? About an hour ago, I was on my Zoom call for Christian Creatives, which was started by Dr. William Barnett over at International Network of Creatives and the question was posed. What is beauty? It’s harder to define than you think and that concerns me. I will confess for a person who has spent his entire life in the arts in one form or another, I was struggling to define beauty. What is Beauty?

What Is Beauty? Beauty Is Like Love

I started off the conversation, though about half way in, I felt like I was rambling and it may have been better to wait to hear from the others. The one thing I came up with is “Beauty is like love. It’s hard to define but you know it when you see it.” From there I started to think about things that people might consider beautiful, and I realized that beauty is more than aesthetics. Beauty is complex. Sometimes a part of of a whole can be beautiful even if the larger whole is not aesthetically pleasing. 

What Is Beauty? Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

This is also true. Beauty is subjective. What might be beautiful to one person may be anything but to another. Further beauty goes beyond the visual. A beautiful piece of music can touch the heart like few other art forms can. Music is subjective too. I remember one time sitting down with a person who had devoted a large portion of her life to teaching choral music. She had this amazing voice, and put together some really fantastic classical performances for her students. What surprised me was when she started sharing her love of Bob Dylan with me. Clearly he is an immensely gifted songwriter, but as a vocalist… Well, let’s just say, I was surprised by my friend’s reaction. While Dylan may not be a virtuoso singer, something in His music touched her heart, and that was beautiful. 

What Is Beauty? Beauty is More Than Skin Deep

In our Zoom group, one person went to physical human beauty, saying “What if a person is aesthetically beautiful, yet has a mean spirited demeanor?” Is that still beauty? How about a person who may not be what a culture defines as physically beautiful, and yet has an amazing heart? I don’t think we were really going into what makes a person beautiful, with this line of discussion. Rather we were trying to define the term. Is beauty skin deep or is there something more? 

What Is Beauty? Let’s Go Deeper

From this point forward the question was deepened. We were asked to look at beauty as an attribute of God. After all if God is the Creator of all, then God is the Creator of beauty. So what we see as beautiful may rightly be seen as a reflection of the Creator. From there, the conversation widened greatly. Bill Barnett led us into a discussion based around this verse Romans 1:20, For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 

What Is Beauty? Beauty As a Reflection of God

If God’s invisible qualities are seen in His creation—if His eternal power and divine nature are understood from what He has made, then when we look at the beauty of His creation, we can see a pale image of the beauty of God. Looking closer, we can see the amazing creativity that goes into His works of beauty. Consider a cloud floating in the sky, You know one of those big fluffy cumulus clouds that looks so beautiful on a bright sunny day and even more spectacular at sunset. Would it surprise you to learn that cloud may weigh upwards of 1,400,000,000 pounds! Yet with all that weight and volume, it floats up their appearing to be nearly weightless.  That is the beauty of God’s creation.

What Is Beauty? The Lord Is In the Details

I was reminded of the time I looked at a single maple leaf through a magnifying glass. There are the veins that run through each leaf that are clearly visible, but if you get closer, you will see a near infinite mesh of other much smaller capillaries, that form an intricate design defying the imagination. That was a single leaf. I read on this website that a maple tree with a three foot diameter trunk, will have around 100,000 leaves, each with that level of detail. At the end of the season, those leaves will fall to the ground, feeding the plant to repeat the cycle in Spring This is the amazingly complex beauty of God seen in His creation. 

What Is Beauty? Do You See the Beauty?

Look at the beauty around you. It’s not very hard to find. It’s found in the big and in the small. It’s everywhere if your eyes are open to it. Think about the most beautiful place you have ever seen. Now know this: it is a pale reflection of what God intended. The world that we live in, even though there are things of breathtaking beauty, is a shadow of what God intended. It was tainted at the fall and it was tainted by sin. There will come a time when it will all be made right. And I believe at that time, the blinders will come off and we will truly see.

What Is Beauty? Colors Beyond Comprehension

Is what we see all there is? I sincerely doubt it. Vision varies by species. Take for example your pets, your dog or cat. Their eyes contain two color receptors. This limits their ability to see color. You and I have three color receptors and as a result, we can see the vast array of colors we can envision. Butterflies have five color receptors which scientists say makes them able to see all that we see, and in addition, into the infrared and ultraviolet spectra, but then there is the Mantis Shrimp. These amazing sea creatures, are basically a big technicolor shrimp (there’s an oxymoron for you). Their eyes have 16 color receptors in them, which I believe makes them able to see colors only God can see. There is more to this world than meets the eye.

What Is Beauty? Don’t Miss the Masterpiece

One of the things that amazes me is how we will travel the world to see it’s beauty, the mountains, the valleys, the oceans and more, and somehow miss the masterpiece. We miss the ultimate beauty. We miss it, not because it’s hard to see, but because it is everywhere—so “everywhere” that it becomes commonplace, If the evidence of God is seen in His creation, then His masterpiece is the thing He created in His image, the truest reflection of His beauty. Do you know what it is? It’s you! It’s me! It’s humanity. We are the truest reflection of His beauty, because He made us to be like Him. Notice the humanity around you pray for them, bless them, help them and one more thing.

What Is Beauty, and What Are You Going to Do About It?

Hebrews 1:3 says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” We are God’s masterpiece, created in His image, but the exact representation of His being is found in Jesus. If we want to see true beauty, it is found in God’s love and the greatest expression of God’s love is found in His one and only Son, laying down His life for you and me. His love is beauty. His grace is beauty and we who have been created by God with creative abilities, must use those abilities to reflect God’s beauty and the beauty of His grace into the dark corners of our world. If we will do that, beautiful things will happen.   

About Dave Weiss
Dave Weiss is a pastor and a traveling speaker. He has written and/or illustrated many self-published books and has his MDIV and DMIN, both with a concentration in Creative Arts Ministry. He is married to his wife Dawn and has two adult sons and a grandson named David. You can see more about his ministry at AMOKArts.com You can read more about the author here.

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