As part of our Philippians sermon series, I preached recently on “The Bedrock of Joy.” I said that the roots of joy can be traced all the way back to the eternal fellowship of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Before creation, before anything else existed, Father, Son, and Spirit were in the most joy-filled, loving fellowship imaginable. All joy comes from this joy.
So it is with beauty. The beauty of the Triune God and of this eternal fellowship is the bedrock of beauty. God is the Beauty behind all beauty. And as I have said in previous posts (see Part 1 and Part 2), all our longings, which created beauty awakens, are really longings for God.
When we experience this longing for God, though, what does its fulfillment look like? Well, here, once again, C. S. Lewis is helpful. In his essay entitled “The Weight of Glory,” Lewis says,
“We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”1
Ahh, now we’re getting down to bedrock again. We want to be “united with the beauty we see…to become part of it,” Lewis says. And it’s precisely this that we were made for. God created the world to be the canvas on which he painted his beauty—that we might taste of it, and long for the Beauty behind it. And his ultimate aim is that we might become part of this Beauty—part of the fellowship of the Trinity. We were created to “pass into it, to bathe in it”—to be united to God and to share in the joy and delight and love and beauty of this fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit.
This is what Paul hints at when he talks of our union with Christ and when he uses marriage as a parable for our relationship with Christ (see Eph 5:31-32). In fact, the Bible often relies on marital—and even sexual—imagery to describe our relationship with God, because marriage, and the beauty of sexual love within marriage, are pointers to the reality for which we were made—union with God.
Theologian and author Christopher West says it like this:
“God wants to . . . live with us in an eternal union of joy and ecstasy that the Bible compares to a marriage. That’s what we hunger for, that’s what we ache for: eternal joy, eternal love, eternal ecstasy, and the whole purpose of our sexuality is to reveal this stupendous plan of God.2
Similarly, Tim Keller, in his book The Meaning of Marriage, says,
“Sex is . . . a foretaste of the joy that comes from being in complete union with God through Christ. The most rapturous love between a man and woman on earth is only a hint of what that is like . . . We must remind [our hearts] that sex simply cannot fill the cosmic need for closure that our souls seek in romance. Only meeting Christ face-to-face will fill the emptiness in our hearts that sin created when we lost our unbroken fellowship with him.”3
So that’s what beauty is for. It awakens desires in us and then directs those desires toward God and union with him and the joy and delight of that coming day when we will be fully united to Beauty itself.
Christopher West calls it a “stunning and amazing invitation to eternal ecstasy and union with God.” That’s what beauty is, an invitation to ecstasy—to the celebration, the fellowship, the Beauty for which we were made and for which created beauty causes us to long.
C. S. Lewis, I think, brings this all to a brilliant—dare I say, beautiful—conclusion:
“At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”4
We shall get in! Through Christ, our fellowship with God has been restored. And our hope—the hope that we might actually “get in,” might be fully united to Beauty itself—is alive once more.
Thank you, beauty, for awakening us to this reality for which we were made. And thank you, Beauty, for sharing your beauty with us, and for creating us to be part of Your beautiful celebration.
1 C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, p. 42.
2 Christopher West, “At the Heart of the Gospel, author q&a,” randomhouse.com.
3 Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, p. 227.
4 Lewis, Weight of Glory, p. 43.