Perfect Beauty

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beauty is the word of the day. If you get your body in a certain shape, if you get your hair in a certain style and if you get your skin to glow in a certain way, you are set for success. That is the message, aim for perfection, nothing less. Work as hard as you can, and one day, some day, you may get there. Get where  the models have gotten, where the professional sports players have gotten, where the Hollywood stars have gotten: to the land of the beautiful and in shape.

And if your work can't get you there, don't worry, just give your money away to the specialists and they will fix you up. Just don't give up, because perfection is just around the corner. Depressing message, anyone? How about a different message, the one where you don't have to aim for becoming a perfect creature but seeking the perfect creator?

Saint Augustine once wrote, "Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked." Wise King Solomon said, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing." Prob. 31:30.

Once upon a time there was a man, and "there was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people." 1 Sam. 9:2. He was the chosen one to be the first king of Israel because the people of Israel did not want to be reigned "only" by God, they wanted to be like the nations around them. So God, even knowing that they would be in a worst situation having a king, allowed them to have just what they wanted: Saul, the perfect-looking king.

However, their perfect looking king did not follow God's order right from the start of his reign and even got to the point of disobeying God's straight command to go and destroy the enemy king of the Amalekites and all that he had. As a result, God rejects him as a king and chooses instead a young and not as manly looking man called David, because: "The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Sam. 16:7.

Many and many years later, once upon a time, there was an orphan young lady, Esther, who was in fact a relative to the previous king Saul. She was now living with the people of Israel under the bondage of a foreign king, in a foreign land, and it did not matter anymore if king Saul had once been a king, or that she was part of the same family as his.

Now the king of this kingdom was looking for a wife and searched everywhere for a beautiful lady to be the queen. Esther was chosen among the ladies because "she was lovely and beautiful", and "Esther was taken to King Ahsuerus, into his royal palace ... and the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins: so he set the royal crown upon her head." Esther 2:16-17.

She was chosen by the king because of her beauty, but she was chosen by God because she had a special mission to accomplish. She at one point had to stand up against Haman (believed to be a descendant of that same king of the Amalekites that Saul spared), to save her people. And to accomplish that, she had to take a difficult position: "And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!" Esther 4:16. She was ready to die for her people, she was a true queen at heart!!

Esther had become the queen of a kingdom that went from India to Ethiopia, and she could have hidden her identity and watched the people of her heritage suffer, while enjoying the luxuries of being loved by such a powerful king. However, she chose not only to be beautiful, but to be wise and follow God's purpose for her life saving her people.

God gives people beauty, but He reminds us that, "A woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates." Prob. 31:30. Esther let her own works praise her in the gates, not her beauty. A holiday was started in her memory, called Purim, celebrated by the people of Israel. Saul's works did not stand up to his beauty and he died a tragic death, missing the purpose he could have fulfilled as a king.

"And thus beauty, which is indeed God’s handiwork, but only a temporal, carnal, and lower kind of good, is not fitly loved in preference to God, the eternal, spiritual, and unchangeable good." Saint Augustine.

What kind of beauty are you looking for, a beautiful body that will last a few years and nothing more, or a beautiful heart, that reflects the beauty of God, in Christ?

"For He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground:
He has no form or comeliness;
and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.

He is despised, and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised; and we did not esteem Him.

Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement for our peace was upon him; and by His stripes we are healed."
IsaĆ­as 53:2-5