The Beautiful and the Terrible in the Church

The Beautiful and the Terrible in the Church

We live in a world where beauty is superficial and the definition seems to change and get harder to fulfill almost by the minute. I have been cleaning out my closet and purging as we pack to move and have noticed how quickly clothing goes out of style. As far as the church goes, I am thankful to be in a place where beauty never changes.

We have been created to reflect the image of God. As redeemed people, the more we hang out at the cross the more we look like Jesus, the more beautiful our hearts and lives become. When there is less of me/us, and more of Jesus, the image of God is reflected more beautifully in me/us. The beauty starts internally, in our spirits, and radiates externally through words and actions. It is not what we do, but who we are as we follow Jesus. I used both the “I/me” and the “we/us” because it does start with each of us but “we” together are the body of Christ.

It is a paradox, however, because beauty like that only happens in us because of the cross. The cross was a mechanism of torture and death. It is because Jesus died on the cross to rescue us that we can be beautiful in the Lord. That beauty is both individual and collective, and together we reflect the beauty of the cross to one another and to a world that has such a shallow picture of beauty.

Where do I see the beauty of the church? I see it as each one of us dies to ourselves and lives for Christ. I see it as we put our personal agendas aside and serve one another. I see it as we pray for one another. I see it as we speak truth in love to one another. “Oh, that beautiful, terrible cross,” say the lyrics from a song we sing. Those words rest deep in my soul. I know that beauty in the church is only possible because of the terrible.

1 Corinthians 1:18: “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

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