Finding an Attraction to True Beauty

The Expulsive Power paraphrase
Part 5

The previous words have, I hope, served in some degree to provide practical help to those who are desperate “not [to] love the world,” but who feel that their fleshly desires and tendencies are too strong.

There is no other way to keep the love of the world out of our hearts than to “keep [ourselves] in the love of God” (Jude 21). And there is no way to keep ourselves in the love of God other than by “building [ourselves] up on [our] most holy faith” (Jude 20). The denial of the world is impossible to those who reject the gospel. But not loving the world is possible, even as all things are possible, to the one who believes the gospel.

In closing, let us consider one more illustration. Picture a man who could stand on the edge of the world and observe its abundance: rich produce and culinary delights, luxurious homes, the joys of human companionship, and all the other blessings the earth can offer.

If he turned around after taking in this attractive scene, he would be confronted with the dark expanse of space. Do you think he would willingly say goodbye to the earth and wander through endless emptiness? Would he even be tempted to reject the cheerful attraction of the earth and leave it behind?

Certainly not! Rather, he would cling to the world and shrink away from the desolation of space. His satisfaction would be found in keeping his feet firmly planted on the earth.

However, what if he turned from the world to look into outer space and found himself peering into heaven itself? His senses would be overwhelmed with superior glories, sweeter sounds, and greater beauties. He would see a heartfelt joy spread among all its inhabitants. He would discern peace, piety, and love to a degree higher than he had ever known. Every heart would be filled with gladness and every person would be united in goodwill toward each other and toward their generous God. He would look in vain to see even a hint of pain, decay, or death, and he would soon realize that no other place in the universe was as inviting and welcoming as this place was.

In this situation, wouldn’t his perspective change? Would not the expanse of space (once a wilderness) become a land of enchantment, and the world (once a land of enchantment) become a wilderness? Where empty space could not lure him, a land with beautiful scenes and society most definitely could.

That is how it is for all of us. The best way—indeed, the only way—to cast out an impure affection is to accept a pure one in its place.

And so, let us not try to change the existing tendencies of the human heart. We may very well be tempted to attach ourselves to the things of this world, as if this world is what matters most. But let us comprehend the superior attraction of that world which is to come. Only then will we avoid doing violence to our human nature. And only then will we be able to die to this present world and live to the more lovely world offered to us through the gospel of the kingdom of God.

photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc