God of the Beautiful
In an 1847 letter to his father, Scottish author George Macdonald (1824–1905) wrote of the barriers he faced in turning to Christ:
One of my greatest difficulties in consenting to think of religion was that I thought I should have to give up my beautiful thoughts & my love for the things God has made. But I find that the happiness springing from all things not in themselves sinful is much increased by religion. God is the God of the Beautiful, Religion the Love of the Beautiful, & Heaven the House of the Beautiful— nature is tenfold brighter in the sun of righteousness, and my love of nature is more intense since I became a Christian. . . . God has not given me such thoughts, & forbidden me to enjoy them. Will he not in them enable me to raise the voice of praise?[i]
Loving nature and beauty should indeed be enhanced by loving the God who made them and reveals Himself in them—how could it be otherwise?
Living in Oregon, surrounded by stunning natural beauty and people who love and sometimes worship it, I often ponder the irony that my state and our neighbor, Washington, have among the lowest percentages of Christ-followers anywhere in the United States. For the present, by God’s grace and kindness, people can reject God but still receive the benefits of His common grace, including the enjoyment of loving relationships, natural and artistic beauty, and pleasure.
However, we live on borrowed time. We need to see creation as a revelation of God’s greatness and beauty, and turn to the great God and Savior, our Creator and Redeemer, before our lives here end (see Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 20:11-15).
Andrew Cox, who’s part of one of our church’s families, is a 19-year-old, talented, Christ-loving photographer and videographer. He’s created a beautiful short timelapse film, “GENESIS,” showcasing the magnificence of God’s creation. It includes a narration that asks some relevant questions about nature, beauty, and the Creator. Andrew writes,
Living in the PNW definitely has its perks. I don't think I'll ever get tired of this beautiful area. From the age of 17, I have been traveling across the Pacific Northwest taking timelapse. This is a compilation of the 10,000+ photos shot over the last 2 years throughout countless backpacking and camping trips.
This world was so beautifully created, and it reflects our God in every aspect.
I hope that by watching this video you are inspired to think about these questions: What is beauty? What separates us from other creatures to marvel at sunsets, sunrises, mountains, and waterfalls? Was this really created for us to enjoy?
Here’s Andrew’s outstanding video, well worth five minutes of your time.
[i] George Macdonald, An Expression of Character: The Letters of George MacDonald (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994), 18.
Photo credit: Andrew Cox Media