In my early days of walking with Christ, I was passionate about intellectual apologetics and arguments for the truth of the Christian faith. As important and meaningful as these are, for some strange reason, they tended to make me adverse to other ways to perceive God and His greatness.
The opportunity to spend fall in the upper Midwest for the first time in over two decades re-awoke in me a new appreciation and awe for the beauty of God only dimly reflected in the heartbreaking glory of the autumn colors being unveiled and bursting forth all around me. I have been struck dumb at the scintillating sight of it all.
It may come as no surprise to other thoughtful Christians, but all this beauty strikes me with the simple fact that God is an amazing artist. When you think about it, there is no inherent reason why creation needs to be beautiful—or why we should have the ability to apprehend and revel in that beauty with our five senses. The universe from top to bottom displays gratuitous aesthetic properties that draw us into a sense of gratitude and awe, perhaps even before we know who it is we are thanking and praising.
And I suspect that if God were merely an engineer and not also an artist, our world would look much different than it does. It might be functional and efficient, but it would not necessarily be beautiful in the broader sense of that term. The beauty is simple gratuitous and it is there because God Himself is beautiful and He wants us to see Him reflected in that beauty.
When Genesis tells us that God’s creation is good, it is not merely good for something in the pragmatic and instrumental sense of that word. It is good in part because it is beautiful and pleasing to behold—God saw that it was good and it pleased Him, just as He wants it to please us because He is good and beautiful.
When Paul castigates idolatrous non-believers in Romans 1 for their hardness of heart, he notes in verse 21 that one of the reasons people turned away from God and toward idols was that they refused to give God thanks for creation as a gift from God the Creator. The beauty of this earth is certainly praiseworthy and I thank God for not only being an artist, but for being an aesthetic artist of truly biblical proportions.