April 28, 2016 • Life for Leaders
The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.
I began yesterday’s devotion by talking about the impressive size of New York City. But what makes New York so distinctive isn’t only how big it is. This city is also striking because of its beauty. Now, you may not be eager to gaze upon Times Square or Madison Avenue. But New York has something for everyone. It could be Central Park or the treasure of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I especially enjoy looking at the city in the early morning or evening, preferably across a body of water. It glows with reddish natural light combined with the illumination from the windows of the buildings. (I took the picture to the right while on a boat in the Hudson River, at sunset.)
The splendor of the world is there to please us, inspire us, and quiet us. Beauty is God’s gift to us. May we open this gift each day, filled with gratitude and joy.
Once again, New York reminds me of John’s vision in Revelation 21. After describing the vast size of the heavenly city, John tries to find words to convey its exceptional beauty. Even the foundations of the city are composed of precious jewels. Its streets are made of gold “as pure as transparent glass” (21:21). John is pulling out all the stops in his attempt to convey the incomparable splendor of the Holy City. Words can’t begin to represent its beauty.
This description of the New Jerusalem reminds us of what we learned in Genesis 2, namely, that when God creates, he makes things beautiful. You may recall that God created the trees in the garden to be “pleasing to the eye and good for food” (2:9). God made trees so that we might take delight in looking at them in addition to eating their fruit. And, implicitly, God made us with the capacity to see and appreciate beauty. (Of course, God also made us with the ability to make beautiful things. I’ll have more to say about this soon.)
How does this vision in Revelation speak to us today? It reminds me to pause and take in the beauty of the world. This includes both the natural beauty made by God and the cultural beauty made by God-inspired human hands. The splendor of the world is there to please us, thrill us, and quiet us. Beauty is God’s gift to us. May we open this gift each day, filled with gratitude and joy.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What are some of the most beautiful sights you have ever seen?
Why do you think God created beauty and us with the capacity to appreciate it?
Where are you exposed to beauty each day? What helps you to pay attention to this beauty?
Gracious God, we are reminded by John’s vision of how much you value beauty. The Holy City of the future will be so beautiful that words cannot do it justice. Thank you for creating beauty and for giving us the ability to delight in it.
As we go about our day today, may we pause to drink in the beauty around us. Give us eyes to see and hearts ready to receive. And may we use your good gifts to add to the beauty of our world, for your purposes and glory. Amen.
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of Mark D. Roberts. All rights reserved.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.