Yesterday, I mentioned my disgust with the prevailing notion in many evangelical churches that elegance and class have no place in the landscape of spirituality. But, even the ancient places of worship were stunningly beautiful. The tabernacle was a veritable golden tent that had within it fabulous works of art: sewing, tapestry, woodworking, and craftsmanship. Mouths must have dropped open. Check it out for yourself—Exodus 25–40.
And the temple that Solomon had built? One of the famed wonders of the world! First Kings 6 will blow your mind. Artistic frames for the windows. Beams and timbers—in fact, “the whole house”—overlaid with gold. Stones quarried to such a precise size they slipped into place on site. In fact, while the temple was being built, no sound of a hammer or axe or any other iron tool was heard in the place (1 Kings 6:7). Wall beams were dovetailed and “inserted” together, and each piece of furniture was a choice carving, a dazzling and unduplicated work of original art.
Why not? God’s reputation was at stake. God’s name was on display.
Centuries later, Paul spoke of having to learn how to abound...and there is no awkward embarrassment in his tone or any attempt to justify himself. Why should there be? It wasn’t until much later that the scene changed...that Christians picked up the fallacious idea that it’s admirable to look puritanical and non-creatively plain. After all, you don’t have to do so much explaining. And you can forget justifying yourself if you collected most of your stuff from either a garage sale or the bargain basement. It’s easier that way. You look more spiritual whether you are or not. Being outstanding arouses suspicion, being average doesn’t. As Elbert Hubbard once said, “To mediocrity, genius is unforgivable.”
Remember, now, I said yesterday that some wonderful exceptions exist...but they seem so rare. At times, I guess I get a little impatient about there being so few graceful and elegant swans to beautify the landscape and make Lake Evangelicalism more appealing. If there were, I think we’d find ourselves with more visitors and tourists than we’d know what to do with.
Excerpted from Come Before Winter and Share My Hope, Copyright © 1985, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.