I’ve been spending some time with the book of Isaiah recently, and I’ve been struck by the prominence of the theme of beauty. As the book begins, God’s people have in their idolatry become corrupt, unrighteous. They are ugly. But almost a soon as that reality is described we find God making a promise—that he will make his people beautiful again.
Over the course of many chapters, a breathtaking plan is revealed. God will make all things right through the beauty of his people. Perhaps the culmination of this theme is found in Isaiah 62. God promises that he will not rest until his people’s righteousness becomes so striking that kings and nations cannot help but notice her glory: she will become “a praise in the earth,” and “a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.” Even God will rejoice over her, as a groom delights in his bride.
Consider what this is saying. We live in a time when the Church’s worst enemy often seems to be the Church itself. Scandals in church leadership are all around us. Everywhere people look they can find hypocrisy, insensitivity, and disunity. And yet God says that is plan is to make his church beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that her beauty will make outsiders long to be a part of it. So beautiful that God himself will take joy at the sight of it.
As this picture unfolds in Isaiah 62, God gives a surprising instruction. He speaks of “watchmen” on the walls, people meant to stay alert in the protection of the people of God. And he commands these watchmen not to give God rest until God establishes his people and makes them a praise for the earth. God says, “Don’t stop praying, don’t leave me be. Keep asking, keep longing, until my promises are fulfilled.”
I believe that God has called both Redemption and Trinity to be beautiful churches for the sake of the world. To be so characterized by love, humility, integrity, and generosity that the world cannot help but see God’s glory through us. And I think that means that we are told to keep pestering God—to keep asking, to keep longing to see him do this remarkable work, for the glory of his name.
Would you please pray with me, that God would make us increasingly beautiful?