Friday of 4 Lent

Beauty/Loveliness

“Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (Peter is speaking of women here, but this applicable to all who make up the Bride of Christ)  — 1 Peter 3:4

“I am very dark, but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem, like the tents of Kedar, like the curtains of Solomon.”  — Song of Solomon 1:5  

Laura Krauss Calenberg is a fashion model. She is often seen on the runways of Europe and  often graces the covers of magazines. She is famous, beautiful, and rich. She was also utterly miserable walking the runways of the modeling world.  She had met the Lord as a teenager, but over time she bought the lie of the world which described beauty and happiness as outward trappings. Then she hit bottom. She returned to the Lord and is now a witness to the modeling world. She says, “What is beauty? It is not physical appearance. It’s what’s found inside, what’s in your heart…Knowing God personally brings beauty, because knowing He loves you and accepts you brings security and self-esteem to your life. That enables you to be free to accept and love yourself and your shortcomings.” She rededicated her life to the Lord, and found true beauty in Him.

I am often teased because I greet women as the beautiful and talented, or men as the handsome and talented. We have been conditioned to believe beauty is on the surface. That is simply not true. When I look at one who is in Christ, I see Christ in them. I see Christ, the perfection of beauty, made manifest in them. Our beauty is not found in what we put on, or what we acquire, or how physically attractive we are. Beauty is found, for both men and women, in who we are in Christ Jesus. Christ alone makes us beautiful in God’s sight.

The passage from Song of Solomon above is one of Bishop Jones’ favorites. On his Aslan Roars site he said the following:

We have enough battles to fight in the Christian life without fighting the windmills of a false identity. Knowing who we are in Christ is imperative in our journey. It is true, that darkness does dwell in my flesh, but it is also true that I have a new heart that longs for God’s presence and God’s will. As a matter of fact, my heart is fashioned to be a dwelling place for the presence of Christ in the person of The Holy Spirit…The Hebrew word “lovely” in verse 5, means “to be fitting, to be a right fit, something comfortable and inviting.” It carries the idea of “Home.” God created you and me to be a Dwelling Place for Him.

We are all fighting windmills right now. But we need to know that when God looks at us, He sees the depth of beauty within us. As Solomon says later in his song (4:9), “You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes…”

But it is not only imperative that we recognize that we are found beautiful in the eyes of the Lord. In our covenant with Christ we are to “seek and serve Christ in all persons”, and to “respect the dignity of every human being”. Mother Teresa lived that covenant vow. She said that she saw Jesus in every man, woman, or child she met, and she treated them accordingly. To her, all the broken people whom she served were “Jesus in His distressing disguise”.

The prophet Isaiah said of Jesus in the fourth Servant Song (53:2), “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” But the majesty and glory of God was found in Him. When we are in Christ, that same majesty and glory can be found in us. It is a process to be remade in His image. But it begins with accepting who we are in Christ Jesus. May our hearts, as the bishop said, be “fashioned to be a dwelling place for the presence of Christ in the person of The Holy Spirit”.

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