I have been blessed with 2 daughters, so this post was inevitable at some point in my life. Watching your 3 & 7 year old girls interact with Disney princesses is a truly priceless experience. After the 5th princess (no comments, please), the theological significance of what I was witnessing hit me. Work with me on this, I think it’s worth it.
When my girls first saw these full size, real life princesses in all their pomp and glory, I noticed 2 consistent responses: captivation and imitation. True beauty captivates us and produces in us a desire to reflect it. Allow me to elaborate.
My girls’ captivation was obvious: they couldn’t take their eyes off of the beautiful princesses. The gleaming dresses, perfect hair, sparkling crowns enthralled them. They couldn’t and certainly wouldn’t look away. True beauty captivates us. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon or seen a majestic mountain range at sunset you get the idea. True beauty captures our attention.
I was expecting captivation, but the imitation caught me by surprise. Now it shouldn’t have, since they were dressed as princesses themselves. Nonetheless, I noticed that my girls mimicked the body language, movements, and even the voices of the princesses. True beauty produces a desire in us to reflect it, or imitate it. The entire fashion industry is built on this principle. What is beautiful shouldn’t only be seen, but it should be shared.
As I’m sure happens with most dads, when these thoughts hit me in line to see Cinderella I immediately thought of Jonathan Edwards. He spoke about the glory of God as a fountain of perfection, excellence, and beauty. He posited that God’s beauty is meant to be seen and adored (captivation), and also to be repeated and shared (imitation).
In The End for Which God Created the World he said it this way:
…if the fulness of good that is in the fountain is in itself excellent, then the emanation, which is, as it were, an increase, repetition, or multiplication of it, is excellent.
The point is simple: God wants us to be captivated by his beauty, and to imitate it. Those concepts are evident in Paul’s prayer for us in Ephesians 3:16-19:
I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Note especially the end: he prays that we would comprehend Christ’s love that goes beyond knowledge (captivation), and that such comprehension would result in our being filled with God’s fullness (imitation).
We stood in line for what seemed like eternity to see these princesses. But they were worth it: my girls were not disappointed. I wonder, are we in line to see the beauty of God? When was the last time you were captivated by God’s glory? When was the last time you reflected his holiness?
This is what faith in Jesus Christ does to us. By faith, we are now able to be enthralled with God’s perfection. By faith, we are now able to walk by the Holy Spirit and reflect God’s glory here and now.
There’s always a danger to settle for lesser beauties. Don’t. God’s glory is the most magnificent jewel in the universe, and as we experience beauty in various forms, they are meant to drive us to contemplate him. He’s worth standing in line for.
The truth is, we will be captivated by and imitating God’s beauty for eternity. We know that when we finally meet Jesus face to face,
we will be like him because we will see him as he is.
-1 John 3:2