John MacMurray


A Glimpse of Beauty

Over the past seven years I have been increasingly involved with social media. Not that I wanted to — heavens no! No, my travels on the internet highway have been more out of necessity because of my involvement with the Open Table Conference.

Anyway, something I’ve frequently noticed in the majority of posts, blogs, and tweets I see, with a few notable exceptions, is they are written primarily to express disagreement, anger, or frustration about what people don’t like. I read so much of what folks are against that when I’m finished I often feel intellectually and emotionally exhausted.

It seems that one of social media’s greatest contributions to our culture has been to provide a “sandbox” for us to play and practice the fine skills of throwing mud and sand at each other by finding fault and playing the blame game. We wage war with words firing accusations and tearing down ideas that don’t agree with our own.

Today, I surrender. I’m waving the white flag—because I want to write about what I’m for, not against. I want this moment to be about what is good and beautiful, maybe even divine.

To begin with, I believe every member of the human race exists in the likeness of the unfathomable beauty of the eternal, Triune God. We are all bearers of this image—the tri-unity Being of self-giving, other-centered LOVE. So, I am for humanity—all humanity.

However, it’s easy to see ugliness in the consequences of us having twisted this image — arrogance, narcissism, greed, jealousy, violence, corruption, fear, hatred, prejudice, and abuse. I will not ignore these stains in us but I choose not to dwell there.

I am also acutely aware that in our blindness it seems next to impossible to see the beauty of God’s image in creation or each other and especially in ourselves. But look for it—it is there.

— In the faces of children and their parents when the child takes their first steps.

— In the face of the straight man, who sheds his prejudice and embraces the terminally ill gay man.

— In the face of the gay man, who humbly receives this gift of love and grace without a trace of resentment.

— In the miraculous healing of a woman, who can now forgive her abuser.

— In the miraculous healing of the abuser, who now loathes what he’s done, yet can finally forgive himself.

Look with me. . .

See it in a million acts of kindness, sacrifice, forgiveness, and co-suffering love that happen all around us every day.

See it in families and neighbors. See it in schools and churches. See it in millionaires and the homeless. See it in those who have privilege and those who don’t. See it on Fifth Avenue and in a crack house. See it in a newborn baby and on Death Row.

See it in the light of the sun and stars, in the majesty of the mountains and oceans, in the silence of the forest, the smell after a summer rain, or the music of the stream.

See it in the song of a passing bird, the ecstatic tail of a dog, the grazing of a deer.

See it in mothers and fathers who work long, hard hours to provide for those they love.

See it in the ones who care for those who no one else will care for.

See it in those that protest injustice and seek to abolish the tyranny of badly broken people.

See it in those who paint or heal, teach or perform.

See it in those who design or build, grow or cook.

I see the beauty of all bearers of the divine image regardless of:

Gender, Race, Religion, Profession, Morality, Theology, Politics, Power, Wealth, Sexual Appeal, Sexual Orientation, Physical or Mental Disabilities, etc.

For when we see this beauty we witness the Divine. And when we experience the giving or receiving of this beauty we come to know the Divine. It is their Image we bear. This is nothing less that participation in the very life of the Trinity.

As far as the human race is concerned; there is no Us and Them. There is just Us. Oh, we draw lines, take sides, and invent categories but it’s just our twisted posturing to find worth. “I’m better than . . .”

You may be thinking, “Where did you come up with what sounds like such a sappy, ridiculously positive view of mankind?” I think I got it from Jesus . . .

When the Eternal Word stooped to us, beneath us, and for us this was not the short term mission project of the Father, Son, and Spirit. By becoming flesh, the Beloved Son dignified all that it means to be human. Not content to merely identify with us, the staggering truth is that he united himself to us that he might heal and restore in us his image that we so terribly disfigured. Jesus is the union, and He left no one out.

Yes, I am for humanity. For beauty resides there—in all of us. For humanity bears the magnificent image of the enfleshed God, who forever is and will be Self-Giving Love. He is more beautiful than anything we have ever known or imagined.

I am looking for his reflection in us . . . and I see it. Do you?

John MacMurrayComment