It’s the beautiful things that get us. Perhaps the greatest seduction is not the anti-God, but the almost-God. Poisonous fruits can look pretty tasty. That’s what is so dangerous about ideas like freedom, peace, and justice. They are all seductive qualities, close to the heart of God. After all, it’s the beautiful things that we kill and die for. And it’s the beautiful that we market, exploit, brand, and counterfeit. We find ourselves possessed by our possessions, and enslaved by the pursuit of freedom. Nations fighting for peace end up perpetuating the very violence they seek to destroy. Serpents are slippery and slimy thing.
Most of the ugliness in the human narrative comes from a distorted quest to possess beauty. Coveting begins with appreciating blessings. Murder begins with a hunger for justice. Lust begins with a recognition of beauty. Gluttony begins when our enjoyment of the delectable gifts of God start to consume us. Idolatry begins when our seeing a reflection of God in something beautiful leads to our thinking that the beautiful image bearer is worthy of our worship.
– Shane Claiborne in Jesus for President
How do we resist the desire to possess beauty? As C.S. Lewis puts it, we long not only to behold beauty, but to pass into it. This pinpoints the very tension in which Christians live in this world. We long for the beauty of the age that will come when God makes all things new, and Jesus reigns and the kingdom is FINALLY HERE. But that’s not yet. They are bits of it, but it is not here in fullness. As my wise owl pointed out the other day, we get to taste the kingdom while we await the fullness of the kingdom feast. How to be content with small mouthfuls of kingdom-bread? How to share these small sips of kingdom-wine with others?
How do we use and treat power while we await the reign of the King of Kings?