Our teenage daughter, Haley, recently returned from a missions trip to Guatemala where she took a picture of this cute little girl. She looks about four-years old to me. Also recently, I took a picture of another four-year old: this clematis, which our now Marine Corps son helped me plant with a home-made copper tubing trellis four years ago. Now as you know, people typically “ooh” and “aah” over things like garden flowers or the Grand Canyon, not poor villagers in Central America. But, let me ask you…
Which is More Beautiful?
Contestant #1, my clematis? Or, contestant #2, a little girl from Guatemala?
You’re thinking: “Weird and creepy. A little girl and a plant aren’t comparable, and why would anyone want to?”
To which I respond: “Correct! – But, why are they incomparable?”
What is Beauty?
Let’s think about how beauty is defined. Artists and designers evaluate beauty in terms of color, texture, form, function, proportions, symmetry, balance, composition, etc. As a web designer, I agree that these are important elements of beauty. But if these are the only elements, then beauty is entirely subjective; it truly is only in the eye of the beholder. So, one beholder might be justified in saying, “The clematis is more beautiful because it is a vibrant pink and the simple symmetry of each eight-petaled flower contrasts nicely with the random, trailing habit of the vine; the little girls is drab and shabby by comparison.”
But, as a Christian, I have to believe that there is something more to beauty than the subjective appreciation of the beholder. There is something objective about beauty because all things were designed by a perfect, creative God. If I may turn the phrase, beauty is in the eye of its Creator.
The Missing Element
In addition to the elements of beauty listed above, we have to add this most significant element: love. A creation is beautiful to its creator (to a greater or lesser degree) because some part of the creator’s love and creative genius is invested in it. Let’s put it another way: Love creates beauty; great love creates great beauty. That’s why a synonym for beautiful is the word “lovely”.
The book of Genesis in the Bible teaches us that God lovingly invested something objective in this little girl that He did not invest in my clematis. He created her in His own image so that she could think, learn, feel, communicate, be creative, relate to others, and most importantly, relate to God as person to person. That’s why you know instinctively that there is no comparison between her and my clematis. She wins, hands down, because God loves her more.
Love creates beauty; great love creates great beauty.
We are Lovely
It may sound sappy and sentimental, but sometimes we all need a friendly reminder that we are very beautiful to God because we are very loved by God. He cherishes us, deems us precious, holds us dear and lovely because He invested aspects of His own likeness in us so that we, alone in all creation, have the potential to know Him, our Loving Creator, person to person.
And that can help us face another average day.