Thursday, March 15, 2012

“God as Artist”

Insight # 11, March 11-17, 2012

First Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons  For the week of March 11-17, 2012

In the beginning, God made everything beautiful. Every tangible, visible thing in the world was merely a reflection of the beauty of God’s character. It was when God made a man and a woman – beings whose nature and character were designed to be a reflection of His own – it was then that God called His work, “very good.” The outer beauty which Adam and Eve saw when they looked for the first time at each other was merely symbolic of the internal loveliness with which the Creator had adorned them.

All through Scripture, clothing is spoken of as representing character. Likely the garments of light worn by our first parents reflected the moods and feelings of the wearers – an ever-changing glow of complimentary colors communicating even more clearly than “body language” the thoughts and feelings of the wearer. Ellen white tells us that “the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character” (5 Testimonies p. 310). God gave Adam and Eve the “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is, in the sight of God of great price” (1 Peter 3:4). That ornament of inner beauty, expressed in the glow of health, the radiant smile, and the outer loveliness of clothing, form and feature, was the difference between the “good” of all God’s beautiful creation, and the “very good” of His crowning act.

When sin entered the world, ugliness came with it. Imagine trading a gorgeous, luminescent, perfectly fitting garment made of light for some tacked-together fig-leaves torn from a tree! And as the severed leaves of the trees faded and lost their color, so Adam read with sorrowful heart the beginning of the losses that would accrue to the human race through sin. Death and decay in nature reflected the death and decay of virtue in the human heart.

But wait! There is a Redeemer! Of Him, first of all, it can be said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).

Although sin had marred the most beautiful of God’s works of art, He was prepared to sacrifice His life in order to restore that beauty. He does not wait for the guilty pair to come to Him in repentance. No, indeed! He comes looking for them. He comes to every sinner with the solution to the problem of ugliness that they have caused. He comes, Himself, to sit again “for His portrait in every disciple. Every one God has predestinated to be ‘conformed to the image of His Son.’ In every one Christ's long-suffering love, His holiness, meekness, mercy, and truth, are to be manifested to the world” (Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, p. 827).

And, just as any photograph is made by letting the light from the desired object shine upon the film (or, in our day, upon the electronic apparatus behind the lens), the portrait of Christ is formed upon the heart by letting His light shine through our eyes into our souls. “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The Psalmist, ever a lover of the beautiful, looked to Jesus. The beauty He saw in the character of His beloved Savior constrained him, in the depths of his own wretchedness, to cry out, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

In the Word of God is the beauty and strength – the power and love and goodness of the God who is willing to sacrifice Himself and all of the universe to re-create that beauty in you. Nothing but “the goodness of God” can lead you to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Psalm 29:2 says that holiness is beautiful. Isaiah 45:22 says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved.” So, early every morning, look to Jesus – let Him sit for His portrait in you. In His holiness, you will be beautiful – a gem of highest value in His crown. He will be able to pronounce His artwork in you “very good.”