The Beautiful

“Build a man a fire and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.” - Terry Pratchett

This quote was originally used as satire by a man who went to his grave an atheist. Despite his distaste for the divine, I think he hits a core truth about revival here. It’s not good enough for us to try to “create” revival. It has to consume us from the inside and go out from there. One twentieth century pastor put it another way, “O God, send a revival. Let it begin in me”. If we ever want to see anyone or any place warmed with the fire of the Spirit, it has to happen inside of us first. We can’t set someone else on fire if we aren’t on fire ourselves. 

“Beauty will save the world.” - Fyodor Dostoevsky

The past couple of years I’ve been struck by the concept of beauty. I’ve started to think about it all the time. Jesus is beautiful. His story. His character. His sacrifice. His creation. There’s so much about him that’s beautiful. There’s so much beauty that He has created in this world, even in the mundane, that I’m just now beginning to see. I’ll spend the rest of my life looking for more of the beauty of Jesus, his ways, and his world. In his novel The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky writes, “Beauty will save the world”. I’m starting to believe him. 

Ultimately I think that’s what everyone’s looking for. Philosophers throughout the ages would say we’re all just searching for “the good, the true, and the beautiful”. We’re after that transcendence that goes past us, but also encompasses us. Solomon said it this way, “He has also set eternity in the human heart” (Eclessiastes 3:11). Eternity, meaning, beauty, transcendence, are what the Psalmist is referring to when he says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all of your waves and breakers have swept over me” (Psalm 42:7). I’m convinced that, whether we realize it or not, every human being is looking for the deep desires of their heart to be satisfied in the beauty and depth of God. The more consumed we are with the beauty of Jesus, the more likely we’ll be to see our friends set on fire in the baptism of beauty that Jesus offers. The more consumed we are with the beauty of Jesus, the more likely we’ll be to see real revival and awakening come. 

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” - Isaiah 52:7

In my pursuit of the beauty of Jesus, I’ve had an uncomfortable realization. Over time, God has shown me the beauty in intentionally sharing His beauty. Some people call that “evangelism”, but I rarely ever use that word. It’s been loaded down and contorted so much that I think it’s lost its usefulness. Regardless, over the past few years God has revealed to me the truth of what he said through Isaiah above. “The feet of those who bring good news” are beautiful. They’re beautiful because of the message of beauty they carry. In going and sharing Jesus’ story, we are actually participating in and demonstrating so much of what makes his story beautiful. Beauty begets beauty.

I’ve grown to see many beautiful elements in sharing the story of Jesus with people, but one stands out above the rest. At one point during my time in college, I found myself profoundly moved by my peers as I would walk to class. In that season, I found myself completely shaken as I looked into the person’s eyes that passed me by. A new understanding that each person had been made by God and for God was downloaded into my heart, as well as the heartbreaking reality that so many of those image bearers were not living into God’s intended true and ultimate identity for them. 

The beauty in this came when I realized that with each person I encountered, I was actually encountering myself. For most of my life I was that person walking around aimlessly who didn’t realize the beauty of the one who made me, the reality of the one who died to save me, and the true and meaningful life He offers us. Paul describes the believer’s situation well when he says, “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). How beautiful is it that just as this life giving message was brought to me, I now get to take it to others. That process usually looks different than I expect, and it constantly gets me out of my comfort zone, but it’s always worth it.

Author | Jake Stephens

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