Doctrine for the Whole of Us

What’s your favorite sermon on beauty? What about friendship? Do you remember the latest theology book you read on having a robust doctrine on lifelong friendships? Or the latest demand you’ve heard from theologians that we have a set system or stance on beauty?

Take a second and consider it. Really think through the sermons, songs and even debates you’ve heard recently and ask yourself some questions about these two topics. Like, for example, what is my doctrine on friendship? Do I need a belief about beauty? Why even bring this up? Shouldn’t we just speak about salvation? Or perhaps focus on the election?

These are just two topics I could bring up in a list of things that many Christians don’t give much focus. (In the American context at least, since that is my experience.) If I bring up Christian ethics, beauty, friendship, art, etc., I often get some vague answers or blank stares. Now this isn’t a judgment on my part and believe me I understand having a focus predominantly geared towards salvation as it is a crucial part of the biblical story, but isn’t there more to us? Are there no other topics to speak of? Is there little else that stirs our souls? Are we saved sinners who simply sit in a world void of emotion or interest waiting silently until the second coming? Or do we live in a world of vast emotion, passion and countless spheres of diversity and categories?

So that I don’t become long-winded I want to focus on the first two topics I brought up at the start – beauty and friendship.  My goal is not to tell you what to think but more of a challenge on how we think.

Take beauty, for instance. We see around us a world full of color shapes and wonders. We are given eyes by our creator to perceive light, color and shapes. What do we think about all these things? What does God say about them? Does the Bible speak about them?

In Genesis 1, God looks over creation and calls it good. Is beauty a part of what is good about this new creation?

Ephesians 2 says we are Gods handiwork. Do we as created beings have the capacity to be beautiful? Are we beautiful in God’s eyes? As human beings how do we define beauty in a way that lines up with scripture? If we have a capacity to view or take in beauty what will that be like in Heaven, when we take in God’s beauty? Because, honestly, beauty doesn’t exist for beauty’s sake alone but to Glorify God and ultimately draw us back to the ultimate beauty of the whole cosmos – God himself. All of the beauty of creation can ultimately be traced back to the fingers of the great creator.

The same is true of friendship. What do we feel or think about friendship? We know we are made for friendship and relationship and we see Jesus himself having fellowship and friendship with John the beloved. We see whole societies centered around social networks, communities, and organizations. Does the Bible speak into friendship or give us any clue into God’s heart on the matter?

In 2 Samuel, David says that Jonathan’s love for him was greater than any love of a woman. What do we do with or think about this deeply intimate glimpse into King David’s friendship? If this level of intimacy is possible in a fallible, imperfect human friendship then how great will the intimacy be in our friendship with Jesus in the new Heaven and new Earth? Just like beauty, friendship will ultimately point back to something greater and more glorious, which is kind of the point.

As diverse, multi-faceted human beings we need diverse, multi-faceted doctrine. We need to take the truth of the Bible and thoughts from the saints throughout the ages and let these things speak into every sphere of our being and all of existence. In having doctrines and beliefs for every area of life – from music to art to politics – we bring the views of the kingdom into every area of our soul, not just the spots pertaining to salvation. When we do so, we gain a kingdom focus through and through and with the help of God’s truth we begin to become more whole. Not only do we as Christians get a more well-rounded and holistic biblical perspective on the world, but we learn more about ourselves and see our biases, weaknesses and strengths as we work through these thoughts and ideas. God’s light gives us a clearer view of what is true of these subjects and true of ourselves.

Ultimately, it also brings to light more ways that we are connected to our creator. As I said before, all these areas and spheres ultimately trace back to God and in doing so we learn more about him. That he is the God of Salvation but also the God who created music, art, nature and that he is the source of all beauty and true friendship. In this we gain a greater and richer appreciation for our Lord and hopefully a greater insight into his character.

Peace be with you.

Servant Of God. Son of an immigrant. Husband of Jess. Dad of Maverick. Fan of C.S. Lewis, Scotch, and kickboxing.