One Side of the Mirror (Truth/Beauty part 2)
""Beauty is truth, truth beauty", that is all
Ye Know on earth, and all ye need to know."
The last two lines of Keats' Ode on a Grecian Urn. I don't pretend to understand the entirety of the context and I'm not a student of Neo-Classicism—the era to which Keats is referring in his poem. As these topics have been bandied about ad nauseam for thousands of years, I'm hard pressed to see any advancement in our culture toward a cohesive answer. If anything, the lines have blurred into the opposite ends of the spectrum. I do know beauty when I see it, though. Hummingbirds. Japanese maples. Mantids. And I'm not even touching on the human body here. And what's more important? Does one supersede the other? Is it truth? Beauty? Are they mutually exclusive? I think one of the greatest tests of our faith necessarily deals with our response to these overarching ideals and concepts. Because we may be able to apprehend truth with our minds, but if our spirit has not been recreated by the Holy Spirit upon believing in Jesus, our ability to recognize truth will be hampered and hindered. I think this is why there is beauty. Beauty is. But upon viewing beauty, said sight should remind one of the most beautiful. And if it doesn't, whose fault is it? Is there fault? Maybe the thing that's beautiful on the outside is not truth on the inside. And on it goes. Our need for truth remains.
Truth is a different matter. Unlike beauty, truth isn't necessarily something that's seen, so much as it's apprehended. By what? What part of us apprehends truth? Our mind? Our spirit? Our soul? I'm going to do my best to keep this succinct.
"Behold, Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part Thou shalt make me to know wisdom." (Psalm 51:6)
First of all, "What is truth?" (John 18:38) I love this question of Pilate's because it shows a middle-aged man's as-yet primitive grasp of such a primal subject. A Roman! Cultured, sophisticated, erudite, regal. Ignorant. Pilate's wife knew, though: "[She] sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him." (Matthew 27:19b, emphasis mine) Think about coast-dwelling animals who know. They know a tidal wave is coming. The wife of Pontius Pilate was sensing something she couldn't explain. Call it intuition, ESP, whatever. She knew not only that Jesus was a "just man", but also that whatever agony He'd be experiencing, it had infiltrated her dreams. So much so, that she desired her husband leave the matter alone. Surely, her distress influenced him when, "he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person" (Matthew 27:24).
"And there followed Him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed Him and lamented Him. (Luke 23:27)
What is truth? This might be an easy question to answer. With words, sure: "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6, emphasis mine). There. See how easy that was? But again, if Jesus says He's the truth, how difficult is it to truly know Him? To truly make the effort to "deny [ourselves], and take up our cross, and follow [Him]?" (Matthew 16:24) There's only one way to know Jesus. And that's to love Him more than we love ourselves. And without the help of the Holy Spirit, it's impossible. Don't despair.
"For now we see through a glass, darkly..." (1 Corinthians 13:12). Jesus is on the other side of the mirror looking back. And while we may not fit the description of a Jewish male, early thirties, our spirits, our insides are one, when we believe on and in Him. We are just as beautiful as Jesus when we are "born again" (John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:23). Also, "there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28) Here, what Paul is saying is surely multi-faceted, but also eminently simple. The truths in God's word become the guidelines and guardrails in which our lives as Christians operate. To where truth is seen and beauty is apprehended. And it's all with reference to Jesus.
Through a looking glass with love stares back a Savior waiting,
For us to see right through ourselves and offer what He's taking.