Identity

You are beautiful

© September 12, 2018| Schulter Etyang

On the day of our wedding, Jenny and her bridesmaids, booked a chalet. The chalet was next to the chapel where our wedding ceremony took place. Jenny booked the chalet so that it could be easier for her to get ready and walk a short distance to the chapel.

The next time I saw Jenny was when Robert, her eldest brother, walked her down the aisle. When I saw her, I was stunned. She was a different person. Who is this person, I asked? She had on an all white wedding gown. Her hair had been done well. She was adorned with costly jewelry. Her skin was radiant. The perfume she had on smelled like heaven. She was the most beautiful lady I had ever seen in my entire life. Not even the babes in Playboy magazine or FHM could match her beauty. She was exquisite. She was beautiful.Her brother walked her down the aisle and brought her to me. A small tear flowed from my eyes – a tear of joy or fear? The latter, perhaps.

If this story is true, which it is, then I want you to notice one thing – Jenny did everything. Jenny shopped around for the wedding gown and its accessories. She bought jewelry that would match her skin tone and gown. She bought shoes for the occasion. She hired a hair dresser. She bought her own makeup. She did everything herself. In the words of Frank Sinatra, she did it her way.

Ezekiel, a priest in the bible, however, tells us a different story. (Ezekiel 16:1-14 NLT)

In Ezekiel’s story, God found this baby that no one cared about. Her umbilical cord was not cut, she was never washed, rubbed with salt, and wrapped in cloth. No one had the slightest interest in her; no one pitied her or cared for her. On the day she was born, she was unwanted, dumped in a field and left to die.

But God came by and saw her, helplessly kicking about in her own blood. As she lay there, God said, ‘Live!’ And God helped her thrive like a plant in the field. She grew up and became a beautiful jewel. Her breasts became full, and her body hair grew, but she was still naked.

And when God passed by again, God saw that she was old enough for love. So, God wrapped his cloak around her to cover her nakedness, and declared his marriage vows. God made a covenant with her, and she became his.

Then, God bathed her and washed off her blood, and God rubbed fragrant oils into her skin. God gave her expensive clothing of fine linen and silk, beautifully embroidered, and sandals made of fine goatskin leather. God gave her lovely jewelry, bracelets, beautiful necklaces, a ring for her nose, earrings for her ears, and a lovely crown for her head. And so she was adorned with gold and silver. Her clothes were made of fine linen and costly fabric and were beautifully embroidered.

She ate the finest foods—choice flour, honey, and olive oil—and became more beautiful than ever.

She looked like a queen, and so she was! Her fame soon spread throughout the world because of her beauty. God dressed her in his splendor and perfected her beauty.

Notice the difference between God’s story and Jenny’s story?

In God’s story, God did everything, literally. God came by. God found this baby. God said, Live! God helped her thrive. God wrapped his cloak around her. God made a covenant with her. God bathed her. God rubbed fragrant oils into her skin. God gave her expensive clothing. God gave her lovely jewelry. God dressed her in his splendor and perfected her beauty.

Of course, Ezekiel was talking about the nation of Israel. This truth, however, points to a greater story – the story of how God found us, rescued, nourished, clothed, fed and made us look beautiful. – the story about God’s grace.

See from God’s view point, there are only two groups of people. One group does everything for themselves. They find, rescue, nourish, cloth, feed, and make themselves look beautiful. 

The other group, God does everything for them. Like the baby in Ezekiel, God found, rescued, nourished, clothed, fed, and made them look beautiful. God made them succeed to royalty even though they were not from royal blood. Finally, God bestowed on them splendor and beauty.

Notice that this beauty is not worked for but bestowed upon. In grace, it is a beauty that is received rather than achieved.

This is really what is different about the gospel compared to other faiths and worldviews. All other faiths and worldviews, in a nutshell, tell us that we have to do everything by ourselves. The gospel, however, makes this staggering claim, that it is God who does everything for us in respect to eternal things, and even everyday living. Paul F.M Zahl, in his book Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life, writes, “there is no synergism, or shared achievement, in the theater of grace. 

There is no synergism, or shared achievement, in the theater of grace. 

This idea in itself is offensive to me. I want to do something about my own beauty. I have to take some credit for what I did. This idea only sounds awesome to people who don’t have any beauty in themselves – helpless, abandoned, naked, hungry, poor, malnourished, and dead people, which is all of humanity, really.

How would we see ourselves and others if we knew the beauty that God offers to us in Jesus? Which is easier, trying to live up to the world’s standard of attaining to beauty or receiving bestowed beauty from God – beauty that is unmatched and lasts forever.

Christian, you are beautiful. You have been made beautiful. Live like you are beautiful. View life through the lens of beauty.  Your beauty, however, came at a huge cost. The cost? It cost Jesus his beauty or majesty. (Isaiah 53:2 NLT) On the cross, Jesus had no beauty or majesty. He had been whipped to shreds. He was deformed. He was ugly. This is the price he paid to make you beautiful.

Non-Christian, you can be made beautiful. You can receive God’s beauty. It’s really that simple. 

That’s what grace looks like

This entry was posted in: Identity

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Schulter Etyang leads The Life Place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Schulter is one whom Jesus loves. He loves his wife, Jenny, and enjoys reading, travelling, cooking, running and playing squash. He also enjoys conversations with friends about Jesus and about life.