We Misunderstand Beauty

Heather Holleman
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Are you beginning to realize that what your culture deems as beautiful isn’t the correct understanding of beauty at all? Are you wondering if, up to this point in your life, you’ve focused on something so inconsequential and arbitrary? I’m beginning to realize that I’ve misunderstood beauty all my life, especially when I remember that Jesus Himself was not attractive. We’re told in Isaiah 53:2–3 of our coming Messiah, Jesus Christ:

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

When I read this passage, I feel very tenderly toward Jesus. I feel like He understands. The passage says that Jesus had “nothing in his appearance to attract us to him,” and in fact, He was someone “from whom people hide their faces.” This is a man who wasn’t beautiful to the watching world.

But think about this: Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). Within Jesus, a beauty more majestic and more notable than any other person in the entire history and future of mankind rests.

Experience the Sublime Kingdom

When I think about this magnificent, sublime beauty of what was inside of Jesus’ earthly body, I’m so consumed with His qualities that I stop thinking about my old standards of beauty. Think of it this way: When you stand before the great ocean, gaze down into the depths of the Grand Canyon, or lie in the cool grass underneath a night sky of shooting stars, you don’t think about yourself. These sublime states of wonder deliver you from self-consciousness and self-focus.

“You can’t think about your mascara when your mind is filled with God’s grandeur.”

Sublime experiences—that coupling of fear and wonder because the thing before you is just so awesome—take you out of the center of your world. There’s something better, deeper, truer, and more powerful than you. If you remember your image of yourself as a Knight of the Round Table—battle ready for a great adventure— you can begin to experience the sublime kingdom living that takes you outside of yourself.

You can’t think about your mascara when your mind is filled with God’s grandeur. Try it. You just can’t.

Remember: We Are Seated With Christ

Something even more astonishing, however, is that this same mysterious beauty resides in us because we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), and hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3). The beauty of Jesus resides within us this very moment. That beauty that surpasses any earthly beauty belongs to Jesus Christ with whom all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). With Christ in us, we are beautiful. We are beautiful indeed because Jesus emanates from within us. Christ’s fragrance metaphorically exudes from our bodies. In 2 Corinthians 2:15, we know we are the “aroma of Christ.”

The spell has been broken. I finally see the truth about my face and yours.”

Remember that we are seated with Christ and in Christ. When people look at us, we can imagine that we are completely covered by Christ’s righteousness. With this covering, I think about Him instead of me. I’m in Him, and “I no longer live” (Galatians 2:20). Everything becomes about Jesus living His resurrected life through my face and body.

As I continue to meditate on these truths, I remember that when I’m seated with Christ, I’m then sent out for good works, including those appointed for me as described in 2 Corinthians 5:20. I’m “Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making an appeal through [me].” I keep my eyes on Jesus, and then I go out into the world as a radiating presence of Christ. My face represents His love. My body puts His love into action.

And finally I remember 1 Samuel 16:7: “The Lord does not look at things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I look at others and myself with new eyes. When I’m seated with Christ, I can see others with His kind of perception, not my own.

The spell has been broken. I finally see the truth about my face and yours.

For Further Reading:

Seated With Christ

by Heather Holleman

As Christians find themselves trapped in the rhetoric of platform, influence, retweets, and fame, they need a ladder out of the fray. Many...

book cover for Seated With Christ