Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Life is More than Utilitarian

What are we to do with sunsets? With snow-covered mountain peaks? With mists on a cool summer morning? Why did God create the world with such color? Why green instead of grey? Why are there different hues and shades, different textures and blends? Beauty is all around us and it was from the very creation of the world. In Genesis 2:9 we read that God created trees in the Garden of Eden that were both "pleasant to the sight" and "good for food." But why did He do this? The answer must have to do with the subject of beauty.

Beauty is often criticized and perverted, but is there any real value in beauty itself? I believe so. The Biblical doctrine of Creation points to God's creating all things, and included among that "all" must be those things we identify as beautiful. In creating the trees to change the colors of their leaves in the fall, in creating the red apple to glisten in the sun God did not think it was necessary that the world be only functional. As Leland Ryken writes:

The biblical view of creation encourages us to believe that artistic beauty needs no justification for its existence...These things have meaning because God made them. Artistic beauty has meaning in itself because God thought it good to give beauty to people quite apart from any consideration of practical uselfulness. (Leland Ryken, The Liberated Imagination)

While some Christians today disparge beauty as a sinful and man-made, and the ever rising popularity of nihilistic art aims at portraying the grotesque, meaningless, and chaotic, it is part of a full Christian Worldview to embrace beauty. God has given the gift of beauty and we may delight in it as a reminder of the source of beauty: the perfections of God Himself. So the next time you see a sunset, a star-lit sky, or a rose treasure that beauty and think of its source and maker. Life was not only meant to be utilitarian, it was meant to be enjoyed.


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