A God of Beauty
by Joe Holland
Late summer and early fall are beautiful times to live in a small town nestled in the Virginia foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In just a few weeks, the leaves will display God’s autumnal color palette of seasonal change—burnt oranges, earthy browns, crimson reds, and boat-sail yellows. The leaves will change from full health to a brittleness you can smell as they are trampled underfoot in a thousand leaf piles scattered through neighbors’ yards. The near-distant mountains will become visible again as foliage falls, like a curtain that parts at the end of the show to reveal the actors’ bows. All of this will happen as it does every year, and mouths will be agape. The residents of and visitors to my little town, Christians and theists of every kind, will ascribe this September beauty not to evolutionary happenstance but to a god, and even to the God.
Psalm 19:4 summarizes this thought as it stands at the center of the first half of Psalm 19, a psalm that compares God’s glory revealed in creation to God’s glory revealed in His Word. With anthropomorphic language, David writes of nature:
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
You don’t need the Appalachians in the fall to know that God is God; all creation speaks of His glory (Rom. 1:19–20). For this reason, Christians have always been the real naturalists, rejecting the idea that humanity is a scourge on the earth and instead asserting that all of creation is meant to drive humans to seek and know the one true God.
But Christians often stop too short. As much as we find beauty in creation, we cannot stop our worship there. Any religion that has any sort of creator will attribute worshipful thoughts to seasonal change. We must allow our minds and hearts to go further.
Consider, then, how Paul uses Psalm 19:4 in Romans 10:18. Paul clearly says a verse before that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” This statement is no vague claim to an uninvolved creator. It is a bold proclamation of the Messiah, revealed in the Scriptures as the only one in whom sinners may find salvation. Paul then goes on to ask if the Jews had some knowledge of this Savior. He concludes from Psalm 19:4 that they indeed had knowledge of Him. Bridging these two concepts—creation and redemption—shows us the real aim of nature’s beauty. Nature drives us not just to consider a God who creates with remarkable beauty but also pushes us to ask, “How can I be right with this God?”
So, as you enjoy creation, revel in God’s creative power, but do not stop there. A God who loved human beings enough to reveal such beauty also loved them enough to give His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).