Seeing Beauty in the Mud

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. – Psalm 27:4

Living in a fallen world can be a complex moral experience, not because what is right is unclear, but because sin blurs everything. It’s like throwing a quilt over a lamp. The light shines, but it’s covered up. As bright as the sun is, a blind man cannot see it. And if the blind man argued that the sun did not exist, he would expose his own ignorance, and the sun would still be there.

So it is with the world. What is right is not unclear; it is clearly revealed in God’s Word, known by a person’s conscience, and confirmed by nature. But add a corrupting, blinding, mud-soaked principle in the mix, and complexity replaces simplicity. The new heavens and the new earth will not be a complex experience. Righteousness will radiate from the glory of God as much as it ever has, only the principle of sin will no longer exist.

Yet until that day arrives, we wage war against the old man (Rom 6:6, 12-19; Gal 6:16-24; Eph 4:17-32; 6:10-18; Col 3:12-17), using the Word of God illuminated by the Spirit of God to renew our minds and purify our hearts. It’s a process, a daily experience of the resources of grace teaching us the paths of righteousness. It’s a progressive following after the Shepherd, who in the midst of chaos, moral confusion, darkness, and decay, leads us to the still waters and green pastures of righteousness (Ps 23:1-3).

In this process we must allow the living and active Word to strip us bare and expose our nakedness, so that we might be clothed with clean, white robes. This means that the Word must confront every assumption we have about what is right and wrong, and clean it up. By looking to the culture for our moral cues, we trust in values that will shift every generation. It’s nothing more than striving after wind, and what profit is there in chasing wind?

The Word is a fixed rock. It is a revelation of God’s purpose(s) in creation, and those purposes are the foundation of morality. His laws are not arbitrary. They don’t change because one generation has died off. It’s sad but (somewhat) amusing that the present generation is oblivious to the fact that in fifty years they’re going to be the morally bankrupt, and intolerant bigots they lament so often about. Their grandchildren, if following the winds of the culture, will look back on their generation as either too conservative, or too liberal, depending on the direction the wind blows.

The confidence the Christian has is that the righteousness of God does not change. It stands as an ever fixed banner signaling the demise of this present darkness and the coming of the kingdom of peace. Certainly the church, as long as the Lord tarries, will have to battle against the devilish attempts of many who twist the Word to their own liking. But even in this fight she follows one who has already lead the way and succeeded (Matt 4:5-7).

Our confidence in the Word comes from its source, a God who has revealed himself as the Savior of the humble, oppressed, and weak sinner. He is a God who speaks tenderly to the downcast, shows Himself gentle to the lowly, and fierce towards the wicked. He is the God who created beauty, and thus beauty has its origin in Him. Therefore to hear His Word is to hear beauty itself, and to see the promised Word—the Christ of God—revealed as the Savior of a darkened world, is to see beauty clearly in a world of counterfeits. It is seeing beauty clearly in the mud.

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