What’s more important to you: truth, goodness, or beauty? Find it hard to decide? What about all three at once? Is that even possible? How much do truth, goodness, and beauty overlap? And what ties them all together?

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the way, the truth, and the life. Guide us today by your Word and your Holy Spirit, so that in your light we might see light, and in your truth, we might find freedom, and in your will we might truly discover joy and peace. Amen.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff—
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

“The Love of God” — Frederick Lehman; Performed by Mercy Me (YouTube video for in-home worship: Click here for Video)

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell
The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints’ and angels’ song

Sometime around midnight, Keith Green sat down at his piano and began to write. He couldn’t sleep, so he jotted down some lyrics instead:

Oh Lord, you’re beautiful,
Your face is all I seek,
For when your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.

Oh Lord, please light the fire,
That once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love,
That burns with Holy fear.

Just reading Green’s lyrics doesn’t do them justice. You have to listen to him sing in that classic ‘80s high tenor. (Search on YouTube for “Keith Green Oh Lord You’re Beautiful,” or simply click on the following link: “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful” by Keith Green.)

We often talk about the good news of Jesus Christ as a truth beyond compare — the most important truth out there. God became human out of sheer love for us, and he did so to die and then rise again so that we might live lives of love, purity, faithfulness, and fullness and then ultimately rise again one day, too. Of course, it’s not rare to hear folks like Green describe God’s love as particularly beautiful, but that isn’t the adjective we’d normally use. God’s love, we most often say, is true and it’s good, but if we stop for a second and consider what happens when we actually experience that love for ourselves, what do we feel? We feel, I’d wager, something more like beauty.

For centuries, folks have talked about truth, goodness, and beauty together — and almost always in that order. Truth first, goodness second, beauty third. What is good and beautiful in the world is good and beautiful because it is true. Truth is prior, even fundamental, we think. But if we pay attention to our actual experience today, it seems we’ve had things backwards. It is beauty that we hear and see and feel, and that beauty points us to what is good and true. Someone once described God’s love as something that “arrests us.” It stops us in our tracks and draws our gaze upward to something beyond ourselves, even something beyond this world. We feel the beautiful drawing us to God.

Robert Barron reminds us that while the response we get nowadays to questions about God and faith is generally one of suspicion — “Who are you to tell me what is right and what is true?” — there is something remarkably disarming when it comes to questions about beauty. We are all looking for the beautiful in life, in one way or another, and sharing our experiences of beauty with others is far more inviting today than having straight up debates about what is good or true.

Just consider Psalm 23. My grandmother had this entire psalm copied out rather fancily on thick pieces of parchment. The result was a kind of living, illustrated art, not unlike The St. John’s Bible. It is, simply put, beautiful, and it’s a beauty that matches the story the psalm tells.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul…
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff —
    they comfort me.

Certainly, my grandmother believed these words to be true. She might have even interpreted its image of a good shepherd as a kind of moral example — a good for us all to follow. But, more than either of these things, she experienced the psalm’s beauty. Its story resonated with her story, coloring it and naming it. The Lord is my shepherd. He is with me. This is our story, the story of God’s compassionate love for me. My grandmother felt this psalm deep in her soul. She could read it over and over again, letting the words wash over her like a warm sunrise. And because of the beauty she found it in — and the beauty it created in her — she had to share it.

What are the things you find beautiful? Why don’t you share them? I imagine you’ll find a lot people who would like to listen.

Closing Prayer
Beautiful God! How wonderful is your love for us! Let us never forget it and always share it. Amen.