Gaze upon beauty

Last month I had the chance to see some of God’s most beautiful works of art. I visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Glacier National Park in Montana. I saw some unique rock formations, majestic mountains and beautiful lakes. It was good to take some time to look upon these wonders God has created.

In front of these beautiful sights you often find plaques that claim these things are the result of millions of years of the evolutionary process at work. How sad and foolish it is that some people think the intricately designed beauty came about by chance. As you look at the lake and the mountains and the jagged peaks and the snow and glacier glimmering in brightness as the sun shines upon it, you know a skilled, artistic designer had to have been at work. In art museums they do not have plaques saying a brush and a paint can happened to bang together and this painting came into being. They give credit to the artist, and we should do the same.

Many of us do not take much time to simply admire God’s artwork. We stop, snap a picture and move on. We have a schedule to keep, important things we think we have to do and places we have to be. We rush about as we try to do so much, and we fail to dwell on how much God has done.

The psalmist expressed his desire: “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

Gazing upon the beauty of the Lord doesn’t sound very productive. Our to-do list is long and gazing upon beauty usually isn’t on the list. We like to get things done that give us a feeling of accomplishment. Gazing upon beauty sounds like taking it easy, and what you do only if you have nothing else to do.

Gazing upon the beauty of the Lord won’t give us a sense that we have accomplished something; but it gives us things far more important. It can fill us with joy and awe as we think about what God has accomplished. The majestic mountains give us a sense of the greatness of God. A field full of wildflowers of various colors and kinds gives us a sense of the creativity of God. The vast ocean gives us a sense of the power of God. Gazing upon the beauty of Jesus as revealed in the Bible helps us to see God’s love and grace and great salvation.

Gazing upon the beauty of what God has done in creation and gazing upon His beauty as revealed in His Word are things we need to take more time to do. It’s okay to pause from being productive once in a while. Gaze upon our “Beautiful Savior, King of Creation.” Take a little time to think about how good and loving and gracious Jesus is. It can be truly productive time as it produces encouragement, strength and life-transformation.

Where is the gospel?

At our recent church body’s annual conference, during one of the discussions about a resolution, someone asked, “Where is the gospel?” The resolution was about the church’s opposition to certain things going on in society. The first draft had a lot about what people thought others were doing wrong and what we should do in response to that. The speaker was concerned there wasn’t anything in the resolution about what God has done.

The gospel is about what God has done, in particular what He has done in Christ giving His life for our sin, saving us and giving us new life. That gospel message of what God has done is the most crucial message the world needs to hear. We ought to be continually asking the question, “Where is the gospel?”

In declarations we make as a church body and as individuals, it is important to ask, “Where is the gospel?” The world needs to hear the convicting word of God’s law that tells of our sin and brings us to repentance. But if people only hear that they’re doing wrong and they don’t hear what God has done, they’ll never find salvation in Jesus.

In our teaching of children and youth and in the guidance we give to them we need to ask, “Where is the gospel?” If all we go is give dos and don’ts and instruction on how to be moral, but nothing about the good news of Jesus we have failed to share with them the source of power and strength and wisdom to live a transformed life.

In our conversations about the news of the day, where is the gospel? We who know that Jesus is the King of kings, on the throne forever, in control of what is going on in the world, need to do more than just moan and groan about the political and economic situation in the world. The world is longing to hear good news and we have the best news of all. Instead of constant complaining we celebrate the good news that no matter who is in political office, no matter what happens to our country, our future is full of hope when our faith is in our loving Savior and Lord.

In our sharing with our neighbors, our community and our world let us keep on asking, “Where is the gospel? Have I shared with them the good news of who Jesus is and what He has done?” “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). The gospel alone has the power to transform lives. We need to continually remind ourselves and others of the gospel of Christ crucified and risen again for it is “of first importance” (I Corinthians 15:3).

Where is the gospel in your mind and heart? Is it the truth of first importance that gets you going in the morning and brings you peace at day’s end? May the gospel of who Jesus is and what He has done be what stirs our heart the most, occupies our thoughts the most. For it is the gospel that brings a joy, a love, a hope and a peace that is found nowhere else.