Once the Creator came to dwell in His Creation with His Creations. He lived as one of them among them. They did not understand Him. They ignored and ridiculed Him. Then one day they seized Him. They beat Him. They spat on Him. They stripped Him naked. They beat Him. They whipped Him. They mocked Him. Then they led him through the streets to a hill and nailed him to a cross to hang between two thieves. He died. None deserved more respect and adoration and few have suffered and been mistreated more. This is beautiful.
How can such a thing be said? To answer that we have another question to ask first. What is beauty? We live in a world that was once more perfect than we can imagine or that we can hope. It fell. That act was like a spiritual nuclear blast. It broke the world. Today we are living in a world contaminated by the fallout from the Fall. Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride prowl every street and reside in every home. Yet it is not a world that has been ruined completely. There is still beauty, goodness, and truth. They are glimpses into that world that once was.
I have a pet theory that when we begin to love someone it is because we have been graced with just the slightest glimpse of who that person would have been except for the Fall. Perhaps there are those who see that glimpse in places, objects, or skills. We are drawn to that beauty, to these impressions of a homeland we never knew. But to what end? If the pursuit for the object of our affection is merely for our own self gratification and enjoyment we have become contaminated by Fallout. That image of the former and to be world has become an illusion. There is another way.
When God dwelt among men He did so also as a man. He did not come in the totality of His glory, power, and majesty. He came as a man. He talked with us. He walked with us. He ate with us. He cried with us. He shared our humanity and shared as much of Himself as we were able to receive. There is a word for this. Communion. Beauty draws us to love. We best realize that love when we share all that we can of ourselves with our beloved and receive what they share with us. In doing so we recapture a bit of Eden and have an idea of the communion to come with the saints and God.
To love is to suffer. Effort, time, money are spent for our love. Where those things are, there is your love. Willingly and gladly we suffer in small ways and large. In this way suffering is turned into sacrifice. We will another’s good more than our own and so sacrifice for them. Coming as a man Jesus showed us that we can take the suffering in this world and offer to Him for His sake. So we talk with each other. We walk with each other. We eat with each other. We cry with each other. We suffer with each other. We make the suffering in this world a sacrifice.
And that leads us back through the streets of Jerusalem and out to a hill called Golgotha. This was not mere suffering. This was suffering borne willingly out of love and made sacrifice. The Sacrifice. Love beyond comprehension and a call to communion more perfect and total than human words can convey. I know not what else to call it but beautiful.