More time and money has been spent by Americans trying to find a beautiful life than just about any other culture in history. At one time the ancient Greeks chased this notion of beauty, but their search would be tepid in comparison to our beauty seeking world. Everywhere you look there seems to be an obsession that is focused on the pursuit of the beautiful. It is virtually a part of everything we see in magazines, advertising, stores, clothing, homes, and movies. Everything we see seems to have been designed with this beautiful image in mind. After all, who is attracted to "ugly" things? So, it seems that our world is being driven by this hidden search for beauty.
The problem, however, with seeking this beautiful image is that we are never quite sure we have found it. The world's definition is always changing to something different at a moment's notice. As a result, multitudes of people are left empty chasing this illusive dream of beauty, whatever it is, and more than a few just give up altogether. Some even see themselves as ugly and end up with low self-esteem, depression or worse. Untold millions of people are medicating themselves today because they feel they cannot arrive at this myterious standard of beauty and perfection they have come to believe is important.
Now the dilemma for all of us is that we are created to love beauty and seek after it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful or seeking beauty because the Lord has hardwired us for it. As an example, there is nothing wrong with loving and seeking beautiful flowers or any of the other wonders we see in nature. We are surrounded by such beauty in the natural world all the time. The problem with defining beauty, however, comes when people try to set the standards. You see, no two people can ever totally agree about what is beautiful. That is always the way it is with beauty, as the saying goes, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." In the end, only the Lord Himself can set the standards about what is beautiful. And if that is the case, how can beauty not be connected to the Lord of beauty. You see, the most beautiful thing in the world is the Lord, who is the true standard of all beauty in life. If we stop and think about it, how could it be any other way?
The problem we face in life is understanding how the Lord connects His beauty to us on a personal level. Once we know that the Lord Himself became one of us, as our Emmanuel, we begin to discover how humanity can be beautiful again. Real beauty in us is found and experienced when it is connected to the Lord, who is beauty itself. Redemption then is the Lord restoring His beauty in us by joining Himself to our humanity.
The place where this amazing story of restoring and reflecting the Lord's beauty in us is found is in the building of the Tabernacle in Exodus 25-40. The Tabernacle provides us with a visible picture of true worship and allows us to see our new life with the Lord. In Exodus 28 the Lord shows us how the High Priest would wear a very special garment that had twelve beautiful gemstones mounted on it to reflect his glory for the Lord's work on behalf of the twelve tribes of Israel. A precious gemstone was chosen to represent each of the tribes. In Exodus 28:17-21 we hear about this beautiful garment that was covered with these precious gemstones,
Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings. There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
The High Priest was instructed to wear this beautiful garment, covered with these precious gems, as a witness to his work on behalf of the twelve tribes of Israel. The High Priest's role in the Tabernacle served as a wonderful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and His role as our beautiful Savior and Lord. According to Hebrews 4:14-16, the Lord tells us that this special connection with our High Priest would bring forth our beauty as well, as it was reflected in and through Him.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
A picture of the High Priest's garment and its precious gemstones is displayed in this article. And while few may see or even understand this picture, it is the central story of how the Lord defines human beauty for us as His people. This picture of the High Priest's breastplate lets us see how the Lord's beauty is reflected in and through us. Our beauty comes as a free gift of His grace from simply being in a relationship with Him.
You see the central story of God's redeemed people, the new Israel, is reflected in the Biblical image of the Body of Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ's humanity is reflected in and through His people and their new lives by the power and light of the Holy Spirit shining out of them. So when a person reflects Christ into the world they are just reflecting the only source of beauty in life, the Lord Himself as His Body. The Apostle Paul connects every Christian to the Lord Jesus as His Body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 where we hear,
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
And so the great story of beauty in this world is that the Lord of beauty gives His beauty away freely to us in Christ. Our Lord allows His beautiful humanity to be reflected in and through our lives so that we might discover what true and lasting beauty is all about. The Lord does not want us left with a cultural counterfeit that is constantly changing. So, when the light of the Holy Spirit illuminates our lives in Christ, we are seen as beautiful and we become His precious gemstones. Somehow then every Christian is a reflection of Christ Himself as we look at Him and reflect His beauty as our Savior, Lord and God. The Apostle Paul again carries this theme of us reflecting the beauty in Christ in 2 Corinthians 3:18 where he says,
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Once a person truly knows they are beautiful to the Lord and others their lives change immediately. No longer is a person fighting themselves, feeling ugly and looking for something to help them feel good. No longer are they striving to find and produce a cultural beauty that brings them acceptance with themselves or others in a rapidly changeable world. When a person knows they are as beautiful as God Himself because they are now a precious jewel reflecting Christ, they are given an understanding of life that is glorious and eternal.
The thinking reflected in this brief article is largely unknown in our world or even in the Church today. The Lord is calling His people in this hour to share these glorious truths with everyone we can. Maybe we know a troubled person that is feeling ugly today or wasting their lives trying to be something more beautiful, but will never know if that even happens. Each of us needs to come to our Lord and find in Him the beauty and glory of life that we were designed to experience, and to share that with others. May it be so for the honor and glory of our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ and His beautiful Bride as seen in the Body of Christ. Amen.