An Invitation to the Good & Beautiful Life

Who doesn't want a "good and beautiful life"? We all seek and aim for it in a thousand different ways. Our own "vision of the good life", or telos, is what we each lean towards in our every day lives; it's the habits, routines, narratives, and social patterns that form the liturgy of our lives (see Desiring the Kingdom, by James K.A. Smith).

I don't any life; I want the good and beautiful life. C.S. Lewis says that our thirst points to the reality of water; our hunger points to the reality of food; therefore, our longing for a satisfying, everlasting life points to the reality of such an existence. But, am I the master of my own destiny? Is it up to me to craft this good and beautiful life? Who am I, left alone, to say that my vision of the good and beautiful life is actually good and beautiful? 

As all wise pilgrims in history have known, we don't craft answers to this question out of thin air.

James Bryan Smith has written a tremendous guide for any sojourner who seeks The Good & Beautiful Life. His three book series - The Good & Beautiful God, The Good & Beautiful Life, and The Good & Beautiful Community - first arrived on my bookshelf a few years ago. It did not disappoint. As the first title states, the good and beautiful life begins with a Good & Beautiful God.

If you haven't read these books, Smith pleads for the reader to read each book slowly with others in community where you can provide accountability to one another for the "soul training" exercises that follow each chapter. I confess, I didn't do this! Since that initial reading, I've thought many times about the themes of Smith's book - primarily the notion of "getting to know the God" who Jesus knew and revealed as we find in the four gospel accounts. That sounds counter intuitive since Jesus is one with the Father; he is God. But, Jesus fully entered into our humanity; he was human. So, at one and the same time, we look to Jesus to both reveal to us what God is really like, but also to look to Jesus to relate to this God. Jesus is our high priest, our reconciler, our mediator who brings us to God our Father. He is also the image of the invisible God, a perfect representation for us to see the goodness, beauty and truth of the everlasting God.

I've decided to pick up the series off my bookshelf once again, dust it off, and reengage with Smith's guidebook for formation into the likeness of Jesus, because I want to know the God he revealed, I want to put on his character and I want to learn to live life together in community has he drew it up.

If you, too, desire to discover the permanent, imperishable, enduring Good & Beautiful Life, perhaps you'll journey with me in a reading of this three book series. What do you have to lose?


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