The world is full of ugly. Many of you will have read the horrifying and moving story of the abused elephant who, while being rescued from many years of abusive behavior, actually wept. I am heartbroken over the bitterness and hatred that is the constant news headline in places like Gaza and Sudan. The Pope met with victims of Roman Catholic clergy abuse in the same week that highly-acclaimed Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Vines is in the news for whitewashing his role in covering up abuse by one of his protégés.
The world is full of ugly. So full, it makes it hard to notice that the world is also full of beautiful. I cannot ignore the ugly. We need to look at it, acknowledge it, heal it when we can. But we must not allow ourselves to stare too long into it without the Sabbath rest that comes from seeing the beautiful.
Sometimes the beauty is not easy to see, but I see it most in the people that I love, in their smiles, hugs, kindnesses and quirks. In my church family, in my relatives, in colleagues and friends, there I see the beautiful things that make it possible for me to look at the ugly too.
Of course, I could name other beautiful things as well. For some of us, gardens and plants, for others, animals and children. A well-crafted sentence or a lovely song. A memory.
Come to think of it. The world is full of beautiful. If we can allow God’s Spirit to help us see past the ugly and appreciate the beautiful, we will have strength to face the ugly. The writer of Hebrews encourages us to keep our attention “fixed on Jesus.” In Him we see the beauty of God’s love reaching out to us through the ugliness of His crucifixion. The world is full of ugly. Don’t let that prevent you from seeing that the world is also full of beautiful.
Love in Christ,
Greg Burriss, Pastor
Rocky River Baptist Church
Siler City, NC