There is a saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That is surely true also in the context of the building in which we worship, commonly called a church, or the house of God. In our church body we have some very well appointed buildings – fine windows, beautiful organs, wonderful architecture, nice altars, and so on. Many of the older generations among us may have come out of such buildings with all the wonderful appointments into smaller churches not as well appointed and in some minds not as beautiful. Who of us would not like to worship in such a building again! But lacking beauty? Never! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
In Europe one stands in awe of the beautiful churches and cathedrals with their high arches, beautiful windows, gold leaf altars, wonderful pipe organs, and pictures by the masters. We can find many of the same, though not as old, in our own country, and probably in our own city
Our congregation in Corpus Christi and in Weslaco is blessed to have a beautiful, if inauspicious, place of worship. We have all the essentials necessary for worship. The beautiful altar at Shepherd of the Valley, and the new stained glass windows at Resurrection do not enhance our faith, but in their beauty assist us in focusing our attention on why it is that we are in church. However, someone who is driving through the city to find a church probably will not choose our church if outward appearance is his only standard. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
But what makes a church building beautiful? It is not the outward trappings. As one goes into the most if not all of the cathedrals in Europe and into many of the beautiful church buildings in our land, what you see is what you get, and no more. The beauty of God’s house is not its appearance, but what is heard within. Isaiah lamented that “our holy and beautiful temple…is burned up with fire” (64:11) Where the Word of Truth no longer is, there is a house fit for judgment, no matter how beautiful its walls. Where the truth of the everlasting Gospel is supplanted, and where men go their own way in defiance of the God of grace and truth, there the glory of the Lord has departed (1 Samuel 4: 22). Where God is not pleased to dwell there is no beauty.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder- and in the ear. How beautiful is that church where within its walls is proclaimed God’s truth without admixture of error and where is heard the everlasting Gospel- the message of forgiveness and grace through which the Lord clothes us with righteousness. How beautiful is that place from which one leaves, knowing that on this day he or she has seen and heard Jesus! How beautiful that church building that is a virtual gate to heaven!