Beauty and jealousy are oil and water words—they aren’t a good match—but in God they come together.
God’s beauty is seen in his relational devotion—in his love. Even in our humanity we see beauty in the people who love us well. The wrinkles of a caring grandmother are winsome etchings of love to the eyes of her grandchildren; and the aging body of a devoted wife will still bring a unique beauty to her husband’s heart from their many shared years of life. Our Lord who, though he is not seen, can still be known and loved. He offers us a true beauty once the eyes of our hearts are open . . . the beauty of hearts united in love.
Our vision of God’s beauty in Christ unfolds to us in the same way a child finds security and a positive identity in the love of his or her parents. The aesthetic of love for the child is the gift of parental communion. It is our spiritual DNA. Human bonds were first formed in God’s relational image: expressing the mutual love of the eternal divine communion. This is how we, now children of God, bring the “aroma” of the “Christ-to-God” relationship to the world (2 Corinthians 2:15). The love the Father and Son share is poured out in our hearts by his Spirit and becomes a “life to life” fragrance to all who are being saved.
This beauty of God’s mutual love—the Father’s love for the Son’s and the reciprocal delight of the Son in the Father—is epitomized in the divine plan to draw sinners out of death and to pay the cost of sin. The cross offered not only atonement but the beauty of sacrificial love as well. “Father,” Jesus prayed shortly before his crucifixion, “I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).
This, then, is the context of divine jealousy. We were created to share in the greatest of all loves—to be embraced by God himself in his eternal love. It was this love that the Spirit poured out in our hearts as we came to faith, and the love that draws us ever closer to him. It is the love that surpasses knowledge, and will take all of eternity to explore.
So what of jealousy? It comes with love. If God is less than jealous for the spirit he crafted when he knit us together in our mother’s womb, then the God who “is love” would be a myth. Love is what defines our value. The measure of our life is God’s care for us. So his jealousy is not the selfish sort that we find in the world: the distortion of one who covets the attention of others out of selfishness. Instead God is jealous as the one who created us for joy, goodness, delight, and beauty. He longs for us in his loving creativity from before the creation when the Father and Son chose us before the world came into being.
So God’s proper jealousy is the measure of that love. He longs for us to respond to him; and that longing reveals the deepest beauty we will ever know. It is seen in his communion as Father, Son, and Spirit as it is spread to us and then through us to others. This is beauty beyond words; so God is loving and lovely as he calls us away from all the competing pleasures of a broken past. And now he draws us into glory, the glory Jesus shared with the Father before creation and now wants us to see in eternity to come. In his jealous care he refuses to let us be trapped by false loves. This is true beauty.