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Beauty is Our Testimony

God expects us to love beauty and to create beauty. This is central to our commission as Christian people. It is bound up in the role of the Holy Spirit in the Church.

 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify” (John 15:26).

Two honeymooners hiked across the countryside of northern Italy. At the center of each village and tucked away in valleys or on top of hills, were little churches scattered throughout the country. What they discovered in every one of these churches caused them to marvel — grand works of art, breathtaking paintings and timeless wonders. The height of beauty in all Christian nations is found in places of worship. The masterpieces of Michelangelo and Botticelli and the anonymous medieval painters cover sanctuaries from top to bottom. The finest craftsmanship, blacksmithing, and carpentry, and the most sublime musical accomplishments were all inspired around the Christian altar.

If a tourist wanders into a monastery, he will lose his breath at the sight of the gardens. From the deserts of Egypt to the northern mountains of Romania, generations of monks have pruned and cultivated roses and vines in every corner of the cloisters. It is no wonder that the first Slavic emissaries to Constantinople marvelled when they stepped into the Hagia Sophia: “We knew not whether we were in Heaven or on Earth.” Beauty has always been the testimony of Christianity, and it is the evidence of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit first introduced beauty to the world in the very beginning.

“The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’” (Genesis 1:3).

There was chaos, and then there was light. Anyone who has studied paint understands what this means. A single ray of light contains every color of the rainbow. The Holy Spirit impregnated creation with the whole spectrum of tints and hues. The light and colors formed what we know today as the universe.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” His Spirit, “and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

The Creator took the dirt, he sculpted it into art, and breathed His Spirit into it — creating man, a little creator, an artist, and a gardener in his image.

“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” (Romans 1:20).

Like ripples in water, God’s Spirit has filled every corner of reality, and continues to fill it, testifying about His nature. According to the Holy Scriptures, everything, everywhere, testifies to us about God. Where do we see this? In truth, goodness, and beauty. In the mind of the ancients these are all synonyms. Everything true, all good science and reason, all morality, and everything beautiful and sublime tells the story — the Spirit of God. Within the stars of heaven and the ants in the ant hills, the prophets of Judaism and even the philosophers of pagans, the Holy Spirit has beckoned and shouted to us.

Then God sent his only son. He became one of us to reveal Himself. Yet, even then, God did not stop.

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2).

The Holy Spirit no longer reveals itself in a distant manner. It reveals itself in us directly. God is manifest in the life of the Christian Church.

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify” (John 15:26).

All the universe, all the stars, all the animals and plants, and even the prophets and philosophers testify about God. Yet, even there their testimony is limited. God in the Church is the crown of His work. His greatest testimony comes here, in the perfect examples among the saints but even in us, the little people, the laity and clergy struggling on a day to day basis. We cannot take seriously enough the importance of our work together as Christian people. We are here to testify about God.

“He will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify” (John 15:26).

We are here to witness God’s beauty to this world. Look around. Every day, our culture falls back a little more into chaos. Do you remember? “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” Have you heard the lyrics by contemporary pop-stars? Have you seen the twisted themes flooding from Netflix and Disney? Nihilism is eating away at the soul of our neighbors. Politicians are not going to save us. Gun-control is not going to stop violence. Legislative power will not curtail morality. I hate to admit it, folks, but we have to face up to this. The Church is the only hope the world has. We are it.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37).

We need to love beauty and to create beauty. In a world where social media forums and public school rooms shove lies down the throats of young children, we need to dedicate our lives to truth, logic, reason, and wisdom. In a world of moral confusion and unparalleled violence, we need to buckle down in discipline and holiness. In a world where art has become decadent and harmony forgotten, we need to aspire to fill every corner of our lives with beauty. This is how we witness: by opening our souls to God’s Holy Spirit, and letting that Spirit shine out in us.

May God teach us to love beauty and to create beauty.


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