The tension between form and background, between beauty and content


As beings created in the image of God, we are able to create beauty and appreciate beauty. Regardless of whether the concept of beauty can vary from one person to another, or from one culture to another, men in caudillo react to what they consider to be beautiful.

Now, the fact that not everyone has the same concept of beauty, and that not everyone appreciates in the same way what they see or what they hear, should not lead us to the conclusion that beauty is merely subjective and that it depends completely of taste, culture or the preference of each one.

For example, David writes in Ps. 27: 4 that he had demanded only one thing from the Lord: "That I may be 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". The God revealed in the Scriptures is pleasing to contemplate. However, many people prefer to keep that God as far as they can from their lives, because they do not like what they know about Him. So the beauty of God is objective; He is beautiful, but there are many people who have bad taste because of his sinful nature.

Sin damaged to some extent our appreciation for true beauty, and even hides it from our eyes. An unbeliever man can appreciate the excellence of an artistic work, but he is not capable of appreciating another type of beauty that is infinitely superior; he is completely spiritually blind, as Paul says in 2 Cor. 4: 3-4.

But one of the collateral effects of salvation is that it produces in us a radical change in the way we perceive things and that allows us to reach a new appreciation for beauty. When the eyes of our understanding are opened in regeneration, we can appreciate the beauty and glory of our Savior and react admiringly to it. That is an integral part of our worship. Before we were blind, but now we see; and what we see of Christ fills us with an ineffable and glorious joy, as Peter says in his first letter (compare 1 Peter 1: 8).

The problem is that we are all capable of being self-deceived and thinking that we are responding adequately to the truth of God revealed in His Word, when it could be a mere enjoyment of the intellectual and aesthetic stimulus that gives us the presentation of the truth in a good preaching or the beauty of the instrumental accompaniment of a hymn. In other words, we can easily confuse a merely aesthetic response with the true emotion that occurs in the heart of the believer when he knows that he is in the presence of a God full of glory and majesty.

You do not have to be a believer to be moved by the beauty of a sunset; and even the most ungodly of men can feel a deep emotion listening to Handel's Messiah. This simply evidences the fact that man was created with the ability to respond to beauty. But only the believer can go beyond mere artistic appreciation, to the appreciation of an infinitely superior beauty and that is an inherent part of true worship.

That is why when we come together as a church, we must avoid everything that can become a distraction from the supreme purpose for which we have gathered there: to worship the living and true God "in spirit and in truth". The excess in the decoration of the building or in the music that we use as accompaniment, can become a great obstacle to true adoration. That does not mean that we should fall in the extreme of doing it in a corriente way so that it does not distract. What causes us aesthetic irritation can also become an obstacle to worship. In Psalm 33: 3 we are exhorted to sing a new song to God; and then the psalmist adds: "Do it well, ringing with joy."

I believe that Dan G. McCartney provides a good balanceo when he says that if adoration is ugly or boring, it will end up obscuring God and making His beauty difficult to see; but at the same time, we can focus so much "on human creative art that a surrogate beauty stands in the way and, therefore, again makes God's own beauty difficult to see."

So we are not against beauty in worship. "But that beauty," McCartney continues, "has to be adjusted to its task of transmitting the weight and majesty of God. Consequently, it needs to manifest simplicity, sobriety and being restrained. " Or as John Piper says, we must try to achieve excellence that does not distract. That is the balanceo: an excellence that does not cause distraction. That was one of Paul's concerns when he preached the gospel in Corinth:

"So, brothers, when I came to you to announce to you the testimony of God, I did not go with excellence of words or wisdom. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was among you with weakness, and much fear and trembling; and neither my word nor my preaching was with persuasive words of human wisdom, but with demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith is not founded on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God "(1 Cor. 2: 1-5).

This provokes a healthy tension by striving to give God an excellent worship, while we take care not to convert the cult into a show room where the artistic creativity of the musicians, or even the preacher, is the center of attention.

Our congregational cults are not a spectacle. We have come together to give glory to God through our Lord Jesus Christ, responding to what He has revealed of Himself in His Word. If our intellect, our will and our emotions are not governed by the understanding of divine revelation we will be easily manipulated and dragged into a false worship.

Sugel MichelénAuthor: Sugel Michelén

He studied for the ministry in 1979. Later he was sent by the Biblical Church of the Lord Jesus Christ (IBSJ), in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to the city of Puerto Plata, to begin a work there. But at the end of 1983 he was called to be part of the IBSJ pastor corps, where he serves the Lord since then, regularly exposing the Word on Sundays. He is also the author of the blog All Thought Captive.

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