Bible Spirituality

4 Basic Facts for Understanding Life – Beauty, Damage, Costly Grace, Kingdom of God

4 Crucial Facts: Beauty, Damage, Grace, KingdomThe world is dangerous, and wonderful.  Human life is rich, deep, terribly vulnerable, and often treated like trash.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about God being actually WITH us in this terrible messy wonderful creation.

The teaching of Jesus (and the Apostles and Prophets) is that God has a well-thought-out, very serious plan for the redemption of this whole thing – the human race, human life, this planet, the universe – the whole shebang.

But sometimes it’s not easy to keep one’s head straight – or one’s emotions under healthy control – as we live through very troubling times

  • in broader society (city, state, nation, world)
  • or in our families,
  • or as individuals.

Here are four principles that I very much believe are true

and they are very helpful, if one keeps them in mind.

The first two are pretty much noncontroversial.  I find very few, either in person, in books, or online, who would disagree.

The second two are basic elements of the teaching of the Bible – especially as brought to us in the teachings and life of Jesus of Nazareth – but also in the ancient Hebrew Prophets (like Isaiah, Micah, etc), and the writers of the “New Testament” books (Paul, Luke, and a handful of others).

1.  There is Beauty All Around.

This is not to say that everything is beautiful (see point 2!).  But a person willing or able to suspend lust, fear, anger or anxiety for a few minutes can almost always find some things right close that are in fact beautiful.

That beauty can range

  • from flowers
  • to trees
  • to sunsets,
  • from dogs
  • to music
  • to a building,
  • from a child learning to walk
  • to an excellent move on the basketball court
  • to a speech,
  • from the way people work together to do something good for the community
  • to cattle in a pasture
  • to how a human body can heal itself.

It goes on and on.  You can think of more. There is beauty all around.  We don’t have to ignore point 2 in order to acknowledge point 1 and even derive strength and hope from it.

4 Crucial Facts: There is Beauty All Around. Everything is Damaged. God Comes to Us In Costly Grace. God is Building His New Economy.Click To Tweet

2.  Everything is Damaged.

This is perhaps why it is so difficult – especially for some of us – to sustain hope and good will throughout the days.

No matter what you are working on, or who you are caring about, you always find some damage.

  • It can be from a tornado,
  • or from a childhood with significant physical or emotional abuse;
  • it can be from poor planning in construction,
  • or lack of discipline in managing one’s own life and habits;
  • it can be from natural decay,
  • from a birth defect, or disease, or accident,
  • or from human nastiness, even deliberate destruction by humans, including ones who were responsible to prevent the destruction.

It’s all around.  And though terrible, it is helpful to keep that truth near at hand.  It explains a lot, whether we know the reason for a particular instance of damage or not. We know it is endemic, even epidemic.  Don’t be surprised. Be prepared to deal, or to help someone else deal.

3.  God Comes to Us in Costly Grace.

The essence of the Christian Gospel is “Immanuel” – a name given to Jesus before he was born – which means “God with us.”

It was a gracious, kindly coming, but it was a costly coming.  Because Jesus lived by the true values of the Creator of the human race, he lived a very good life.  People loved him, they loved his good deeds, they loved his style, and they loved his teachings.

But to be here in that thoroughly truthful and loving way he had to endure a lot – followers who didn’t get it, authorities and gossips who deliberately misunderstood and misrepresented him, ultimately a fraudulent arrest, brutal torture, vigorously unjust and illegal trial, and vicious public execution.  It was a judicial murder – and for no reason.

4.  God is Building His Kingdom

(new Kingdom, new Economy, M L King’s “Beloved Community”, new living Temple as a place of beauty and worship – built of living persons, living spirits).

Jesus refused to live among us by the common standards of greed, manipulation, power plays, military (or courtroom) power. He yet today refuses to honor or support those tactics.  He was adamant about living by truth and love.

His refusal to adopt the common human standards for public life and influence meant two things.

  1. He was really devoted to the Better Way (which he often referred to as the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven).  He practiced what he preached.
  2. He was, it seems, voluntarily left helpless in the face of the angry Powers That Be when they decided that such teaching and living as his needed to have a very thorough stop put to it.

But it is the strong teaching – of Jesus, of the Prophets he loved to refer to, and of his Apostles who by preaching and by writing took his message out into the world of the time – it’s their clear and strong teaching that God is constructing a new way of doing things for the human race.  Whether we call it a fellowship, a kingdom, an economy, a temple – whatever – it’s a VERY different way for humans to live in society, and is based on a very different way for humans to relate to God as individual persons.


Becoming consciously aware of these four facts does not make the world a more pleasant place.  It remains in frequent reiterations very nasty.


it does help us to have a picture of what life is about, why it’s difficult, and why it is very valuable and important.  And that truly is helpful.


Four Basic Facts: (introductory post)

  1. There is Beauty All Around.
  2. Everything is Damaged.
  3. God Comes to Us In Costly Grace.
  4. God is Building His New Economy.

See also:

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