Battlefields and refugee camps.
Hospital trauma rooms and crime scenes.
Prisons and brothels.
Places where beauty is, at the very least, eroding, and at the very worst, being actively eradicated. It seems beauty has an enemy.
Rape. Murder. Molestation.
Thievery. Vandalism. Arson.
Genocide. Terrorism. Slavery.
Abuse. Neglect. Addiction.
Behaviors and assaults that destroy beauty, damage souls and diminish hope. It seems this enemy is malevolent, indeed.
Destruction assails physical beauty and unseen beauty both.
The source of true beauty is unseen, yet we experience beauty conveyed through our senses, in this physical world. And the aesthetic appeal of creation, and of people, is undeniable. There is beauty in this world, there is beauty in our physical bodies. It is temporary, but still valuable, still important.
Jesus told us our enemy is stealing, slaughtering and spoiling the good God has created. (See John 10:10) Again, the damage to our unseen beauty is more momentous, but that does not negate the significance of damage to beauties we can experience through our senses.
When unseen harm comes to human beings, in big or little ways, it is accompanied by harm to the perceptible realm as well. And conversely, harm to the perceptible realm affects our unseen souls. We cannot disentangle the two.
What is the effect, then, of restoring or offering beauty in those places where it has been attacked? If we can bring beauty back in a perceptible way, what sort of help or healing does that bring to our unseen hearts? Of course, we need more than just beauty that is seen, we need the source of all true beauty to come back into our lives to repair the invisible, internal damage.
Is this not the heart of the gospel?
Is this not what Jesus offered in response to the work of our enemy? To bring life instead of death? (See John 10:10) To bring extravagant abundance instead of robbing us? (See Ephesians chapter 1) To eventually transform even our physical bodies, that we might fully bear His image again? (See Philippians 3:20-21)
When sin entered this world, destruction to beauty followed on its heels. When redemption comes, should we not see a restoration of beauty following closely afterward? Both internally and externally? I think we do.
How is God working through you to return beauty to the places where you walk and the people you affect?
If you aren't sure, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how you bring beauty into other’s lives.
Look for places to create or contribute to the perceptible beauty of this world.
Consider how Jesus has revived beauty in your own heart and life.