In this article I offer an update on the series of studies currently underway at Covenant this 2014. We have called it “Our Moral GPS.” We are engaging in a serious, but popular study of Christian ethics. We began by looking at 5 great ethical texts in the Bible in this order: 1 Cor. 15:33 (“Bad Company”), Micah 6:8 (“He Has Told You“), 2 Chron. 31:20 (“That’s Good), Mark 10:18 (“God Only Good”), and John 1:14 (Ethical Glory in Jesus”). You can follow this series by listening to the messages found on our Sermon Audio site (link found at the bottom of the sidebar).
The main part of our study in Christian ethics, however, is a careful study of the three, great, ethical standards that God has given to us in the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the Fruit of the Spirit. These three statements, standards, summaries, present Christian ethics in the most beautiful form.
Is beauty “in the eye of the beholder,” as the saying goes? We admit of some interpretation and a subjective element in the experience of beauty. Yet, beauty stands the test of definition and description. When we see the birds flying in formation we exclaim, how beautiful! We recognize the presence of beauty in a palace, in contrast to a tenement. We speak of a beautiful sunrise or sunset, a beautiful dress or piece of jewelry. Studies on beauty will show that there is commonality in people’s perception of beauty. Our vocabulary admits it also, putting at our disposal words such as beautiful, lovely, pleasing, attractive, satisfying, as well as ugly, homely, and hideous. We seem to know when we are in its presence, but is it possible to analyze it critically.
The earliest definition we have of beauty is found in Gen. 1:31 where God pronounced everything that He had created to be “very good.” The Creator took great pleasure in all that He had made, and when He called it very good, He pronounced it beautiful! Beauty is rooted in the creation, and therefore, those who do not acknowledge the Creator, may not be able to give an accurate definition of beauty. This is ultimately why all men, irrespective of their response to the truth of God and belief in God as Creator, acknowledge beauty in the form of created things like sunrises, sunsets, mountain peaks, rivers and streams, clouds, birds flying, and animals leaping.
Scripture speaks of beautiful trees (Lev. 23:40), Moses as a beautiful child (Ex. 2:2), Rachel as beautiful of form and face (Gen. 29:17), Jerusalem as the perfection of beauty (Ps. 48:2), and wisdom as a crown of beauty (Prov. 4:9). “The Lord called your name, ‘A green olive tree, beautiful in fruit and form’” (Jer. 11:16). Yes, trees are beautiful, and the fruit is especially so. We might say that here are two very important elements in our understanding (and experience) of beauty, the beautiful form which captures our attention and elicits immediate pleasure leading to the exclamation how beautiful! and the enjoyment of the fruit excites our appetites and ultimately brings pleasure. There is fruit in the enjoyment of everything that is truly beautiful in God’s world. True beauty satisfies in the same way as a ripe melon does.
The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the Fruit of the Spirit each have a beautiful form to be sure. And when we see them together, presenting one great ethical mandate and vision for redeemed humanity, the beauty is greater than we ever imagined. Look for our next study when we will begin to admire this beauty more carefully.
Sin is ugly. Immorality is unclean. A Godless life and lifestyle is unworthy of creatures made in God’s image, and offensive to the God who created us. So what are we to do? Follow Christ, the only ethical Leader ever given to the world of men. And if you are so inclined and have the time, follow our sermon series on ethics entitled “Our Moral GPS.”