the telos of beauty

The question on the table this week is, “If beauty is a promise of something; what is it? What are we a promise of? What promises are we given?” If, as Caldecott writes, “ The world is a book, pregnant with meanings that God has placed there.” And as Cootsona suggests, “…beauty lures us all and motivates us in whatever discipline we find ourselves.” And the telos, or goal, of “…beauty structures and directs the final aim of the universe.” Then it would appear that the promise of beauty is to lead the theologian, scientist, and everyday man through his ‘right perception’ into the truth. Truth which “grasp rightness”, truth which views creation as, “… the diffused beams of that Being who hath an infinite fullness of brightness and glory”, truth radiating through the icons and architecture of Medieval, Baroque and Renaissance artist, truth about the condition of our planet and the eternal value of our souls. Truth that climbs the scaffolds and shouts with brush and paint that heaven has come to earth and man need only lift his eyes. Truth the flooded the heart of the Apostle Paul who considered everything else in his life to be garbage compared to knowing Christ and the power outflowing from His resurrection. (Phil 3:7 NASB) Truth that meets us in our darkness, transforming us in ever increasing waves of glory into the image of Christ with the beautiful truth that God has shone into our hearts the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor. 4:6)
Of all cosmic mysteries and divine computations; of all the formulas for beauty used by Fibronacci and the gothic artists, we have the Divine Artist carving His Word on our fleshly hearts that we might be living epistles read by all men. The world is steeped in darkness. Beauty is light from another world. Beauty is the promise of victory. Beauty shines through the heart of Jesus and His bride with the effervescent beam of light emanating from God’s first command to the universe. “Let there be light” echoes in our hearts and reverberates through our lives as it crashes into a world which has largely, “…abandoned the search for beauty.” But beauty perseveres because she is the water every human heart thirsts for, she is the telos of the unfolding universe, she holds purpose in her hands and glory as her crown so no matter how obstinate or hard the human heart, beauty is the relentless pursuer of the lost and proclaimer of the truth. And she does that through us.
As beauty is a promise of redemption so we are her ambassadors on this earth. Thoreau said, “The perception of beauty is a moral test” meaning as we gaze upon the beautiful One and his manifestations in creation our hearts are purified so we can perceive what is pure, holy, true and good. The Apostle John wrote, Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:2-3) What a hope!!! What a promise!!!! Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies Himself. Through beauty He purifies our corruption; He straightens our paths and fills our valleys with purpose and direction. Through the pursuit of the irresistable we find our resistance to love broken. Through the song of the sea and the rhythm of the stars we hear His lullaby to a dying world. Through His revealed truth in scripture, poetry and art we glimpse beyond the veil and through the crowded streets into a place where the streets have no names and everything is illuminated with the glory of God. Heaven our destination. Heaven our home. The telos of beauty pointing, leading, sprinting to heaven. Grabbing our hearts with ferocity, claiming our souls for the king, beauty makes something of our fleeting lives as a humble offering. As we gaze upon the beauty of the Lord we really have but one purpose, one direction, one option- total and complete surrender.

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