Study Guide: The Crown of Beauty

Sunday October 8, 2006 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

This weekend, we started our “Beautiful Life” series! Sometimes, the state of the world can make life look so ugly, but God is a beautiful God that wants us to understand that life was meant to be enjoyed as beautiful. God wants to give us “beauty” in exchange for the “ashes” of our everyday existence and give us crowns that let us know who we were created to be in God.

Extended Summary:

God is beautiful. God exists as an eternal, honoring, and loving relationship going on between the Father, Holy Spirit, and Son. God exists as perfect, beautiful experience. Not only this, but everything God has created, in some way reflects God’s beauty. All of the beautiful things that we see, like a lovely picture or bright sunrise, are just simple indicators of the beauty that God is. The really cool thing is that we human beings have been created like our Creator such that we really enjoy participating in beauty. So, when we appreciate and create beauty through loving relationship, we are being just like God!

Unfortunately, our world has lots of ugliness. Painful, anxiety-producing ugliness. Some of it is our own fault…but a lot of it just is! Because of much ugliness, we wear ashes. This is a symbolic term for saying that we think of ourselves and our lives from a largely negative point of view. Understandably, we mourn over the states of our world and our places in that world. It seems like the more we “wear ashes” the worse things seem to get. It’s a vicious cycle that leads to nothing to but despair and ugliness.

There is Good News, though! The Beautiful God has been incarnated in Jesus, and has started the mustard-seed Kingdom of God. In this Kingdom, all those who are slaves to the way the world tries to rush, define, and dehumanize us will become free. God wants us to trade in our ugly ash-suits for beautiful crowns. “Why a crown?” one may ask. It’s because God created human beings to reign with him as earthly kings and queens who living in God’s love and experience God’s beauty in the world. We were created to live in freedom and love. Every moment that we live out our days, the choice is up to us. We can remain in ashes of self-doubt, pain, and bondage. Or we can trust God to give us the crown of who we really are in God. May we all continue the journey towards living with our “crowns” on everyday!

Reflection Questions:

  1. When you think of something totally beautiful, what are the first things that come to your mind?
  2. When you think of something totally ugly, what are the first things that come to your mind?
  3. Take some time to think about your life and your interactions with the world. What are some areas of your life that you find beautiful? What are some areas of your life that you find less-than-beautiful?
  4. Using question #3, are there any areas of beauty in your life that help “beautify” the slightly ugly areas? How would this look in your life?