Then something happened that I’ve never seen before at the fair: people stopped walking, and they stared, and they waited to see what might happen next.
* * * * *
It’s easy to be cynical about the world, and this quickly turns to cynicism about the people inhabiting it. It’s easy to believe the good in all of us has eroded. It’s easy to give up our simple pursuits in exchange for an obsessed desire for stuff. More stuff. And more stuff. It’s easy to read the headlines and think the world has become a dark, irredeemable place.
But I think that kind of cynicism is misplaced. Our basic human desire for beauty and goodness is still in us, and it’s so close to the surface. Trust me. I saw it while rolling soft pretzels on an autumn-cool night at the Great Frederick Fair in Maryland.
Because there I was, at the fair, the epicenter of MORE and thrills seeking after thrills, when our human desire for beauty suddenly rose up over every other desire. The sun set, and it threw the most beautiful colors across the canvas. I can’t remember the last sunset quite like that one. Nature stopped us in our tracks. Everyone’s gaze was up. People pointed, their mouths wide open. A hundred or more of us stood there taking pictures while others simply watched and waited, because that’s what we do when we’re confronted with beauty.
We wait to see what will happen next.
* * * * *
This, in my humble opinion, is where modern Christianity has often missed the boat. And continues to miss the boat. We wave our flags for a particular political candidate or we rail against the pope or we take sly shots at transgender people or we hold up signs against the LGBT community. We offer our opinions and our stances and our lofty towers of belief, but we fail to couch our faith in that thing that stops everyone in their tracks.
When did our faith stop being beautiful?
* * * * *
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about surface-level beautiful, something that can be easily swept away, something fleeting. I’m talking about a deep, moving kind of beauty that cannot be ignored, a beauty that ties itself to the warm smell of a new baby in a stable, the stark beauty of a cross with the backdrop of a stormy sky, the breathtaking beauty of an empty tomb, or the exhilarating beauty of him walking among us again.
I’m talking about Jeremy Courtney and Preemptive Love, the way they love first and ask questions later in the Middle East, providing heart surgeries and food and school supplies to those who many of us American Christians name our enemy.
I’m talking about local organizations who help refugees resettle right here in Lancaster county, even when fear threatens to overwhelm love.
I’m talking about Peter Greer and Hope International, the way they give loans to women who want to start businesses in impoverished countries.
This is what a beautiful faith looks like. This is who we should be endorsing, what we should be supporting: beauty, the kind that stops people in the best possible way. It’s a breathtaking glimpse of the Kingdom of God right here on Earth.
Will you help us recover our beautiful faith?