Missing Jesus: True Beauty

Being a youngish pastor’s wife, I have a special place in my heart for the teenage girls and young women in our congregation.

Two summers ago, I had them over for a sleepover, to enjoy pizza and movies and girl time. I also gave a little talk about beauty and modesty.

We discussed some practical tips: Choose clothes in colors that flatter your skin tones; use makeup, but use it tastefully; compare scandalously dressed pop stars with Audrey Hepburn and Jackie Kennedy—both generally tasteful women, still revered for their beauty.

Beauty and modesty are not mutually exclusive, we agreed. Because classy modesty is more beautiful than attention-getting, eye-assaulting provocativeness.

Of course, in Christ, we have freedom to choose how we dress using wisdom. And in everything, including beauty, we are to glorify Christ.

But now, thanks to two books: Missing Jesus by Charles and Janet Morris and True Beauty by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Whitacre, I see that we were missing something. 

The former explains how easily we can get distracted by good things from what matters most: Jesus. And the latter how beauty is an area where we can get distracted.

Beauty for women is not making sure not to reveal too much. It’s not forgetting about acne and weight to lose and trusting that inner beauty is all that matters.

It’s not even making sure that we enhance our reflection of God’s beauty with the right colors, cuts, and styles. 

In fact, it’s something so much bigger than all of that. 

Beauty isn’t about me, or you, at all, actually.

Beauty IS God. Beauty IS Jesus. 

“True beauty is to behold and reflect the beauty of God,” write Mahaney and Whitacre:

The Bible shows us true beauty. It reveals God as the beautiful One. Long before the ins and outs of changing fashion, God existed in perfect beauty. He is the ultimate, unchanging, eternal standard of beauty. He is the Author, Creator, and Bestower of beauty. His beauty transcends time and culture. It never changes and never fades. It order to know what true beauty is, we must see God. 

So the answer to all of our beauty problems, is a paradox. In order to feel better about ourselves, we are to forget about ourselves. “We must, like David, seek to behold God’s beauty all the days of our lives. … This is how we start to shed our preoccupation with ourselves and our own beauty,” Mahaney and Whitacre explain.

Are we to take good care of our bodies, which are temples (1 Cor. 6:19)? Of course. Does it benefit us to work out, so that we can better chase our kids? Yes. Is it OK if we value beauty and enhance our own through good taste? Absolutely. 

But we won’t find freedom in getting rid of that acne, or losing those last 10 pounds, as much as we want to believe it. We will only find freedom in losing ourselves and finding God, who is beauty. 

When we find Jesus, we find our beauty.

We must remember: it’s always, always all about Jesus.

Lindsey M. Roberts is the editor of the All About Jesus blog. She spent years writing exclusively for secular journalism, including such outlets as The Washington Post, Architect, and Gray magazine, before she first tried to write about Jesus. She’s thrilled to explore in words how everything from cleaning the kitchen three times a day to delighting in the maritime history of Nantucket is an opportunity to meet and glorify God. Lindsey lives with her husband, a pastor and U.S. Army Reserve chaplain, and son in Virginia.

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