Winter 1997

Volume 16, Issue 4

Mirroring the Love of Christ

by Dr. Luder Whitlock

Beauty and truth both find their origin in God. Ideally, Christianity is beautiful as well as true; however, given the fact that we are sinful people both are often blemished in practice. Nonetheless, beauty and truth should be apparent in all things Christian.

Evangelicals have usually been more interested in truth than beauty. That is understandable, but it doesn’t justify the neglect of beauty any more than an emphasis on morality and justice justifies the neglect of love and compassion. When a healthy balance between them vanishes, then Christianity is distorted. When truth is eroded, it approximates the secular and when beauty deteriorates our faith becomes unattractive -- perhaps ugly.

Someone once said of the Puritans, "They were against bear hunting, not because it gave pain to the bears, but pleasure to the hunters." That kind of caricature has caused many people to view the Puritans negatively. In some ways evangelicals now risk a similar caricature and misperception. Just as the "Fighting Fundamentalists" were shunned early in this century, evangelicals may be castigated for their negative public image.

If evangelicals are perceived to be ill tempered and mean spirited rather than caring and kind -- if we are seen as primarily condemning and criticizing -- separating and shunning -- then we will pay the price for that misunderstanding. Others may ask appropriately, "Where is the beauty of God’s love and grace?"

During this season of the year the beauty of our faith shines radiantly through the human experience as we remember how God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son for our salvation. Joy, hope, and peace emanate from His great gift of love. People become a little nicer, give more generously, and enjoy the carols and ornamental embellishments of Christmas. Who wants to be an Ebenezer Scrooge?

Why can’t this be typical of evangelical Christianity all year long? Just as Mother Theresa became a perpetual symbol of compassion, so we constantly ought to mirror the love, compassion and grace of Christ. We should be the ones offering healing and hope. Then evangelical Christianity will be seen not only as true, but good and beautiful.

RTS stands for that wholesome, healthy balance of truth and beauty -- righteousness and compassion -- trusting God to use our effort to bring spiritual renewal to our land. As His Word takes root in our hearts and His grace pervades our lives, perhaps goodness and peace shall prevail.

RTS wordmark Reformed Quarterly, Volume 16, Issue 4
Reformed Theological Seminary
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Last updated 7-20-99.