What if we made some Christians test their favourite clichés on real life? Or better yet, what if we asked them to explain Scripture in light of their untested assumptions?
Take an Evangelical’s handy verbal dismissal of all attempts to form and nurture good judgement in him: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” What he thinks he means by that is that beauty is a variable standard, shaped by personal preference. What he actually means is that beauty is pleasure – when someone approves of something, delights in it, or admires it, he regards it as ‘beautiful’, which is just another way of saying, it pleases him. Therefore, beauty is the pleasure of a subject in an object, not anything pleasing in the object.
Let’s try that on a few verses of Scripture.
“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. (Exo 28:2)
Moses was to oversee the making of special clothing for the High Priest, which would provoke pleasure in those that found them pleasurable.
One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple. (Psa 27:4)
David desires to look upon his own sense of pleasure in God, because David finds something personally pleasing in the otherwise morally-neutral attributes of God.
Give to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come before Him. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! (1Ch 16:29)
Holiness is a pleasurable experience for some, and those that find it so, should worship God in their pleasure. Give God the glory commensurate with your personal pleasure in Him.
Honour and majesty are before Him; Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary. (Psa 96:6)
God possesses honour, majesty, strength, and potential pleasure for some.
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ (Phi 1:9-10)
Paul prays that the Philippians’ love would grow both in knowledge and in discernment, which would enable them to find pleasure in their own personal preferences.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy– meditate on these things. (Phi 4:8)
Paul desires that Christians should meditate on what is true, noble, just, pure, and on all the other things they find personally pleasing, and sweet to their own preferences.
Isn’t it interesting how some ideas are like handfuls of sand when we actually pick them up to examine them?