By Abbey Foard
Persons offended by Living Waters perplex me. Our focus is the Gospel that transforms; with our free choice and willing cooperation, Jesus—Love Himself—changes our lives. He comes to save what was lost and restores us. He gives us hope for radical wholeness in our inmost parts. He doesn’t promise surface healing, but utter transformation of our vessel, making our humanity beautiful—as He is!
Yet we are accused of perpetuating false hope. Some view our mission with skepticism, doubting that persons who experience same sex attraction, gender dysphoria, sexual addiction, or the impact of sexual abuse could ever experience something different.
How offensive to the Gospel! To be sure, Jesus doesn’t promise magical, snap of the finger shifts. But He inspires persons to become vessels of His beauty.
Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) once led a retreat for a group of artists, exhorting them not only to create beautiful art but to become works of art—to embody the transforming love of the God who is Beauty.1
Wojtyla called our very humanity the greatest talent. “In a certain sense, one could…say that God will not judge us for our works; God will judge us for the value of our humanity.” Of more value than what we produce is the integrity of our vessel—our very personhood. Similarly, it is not enough to proclaim a good and Holy God; we must yield our humanity to His beauty flowing through us.
Wojtyla knew that this process of “becoming” was related to the ongoing tension of choosing God and rejecting God…receiving God and not receiving God.2
Most of us begin the journey with God overly aware of our limitations. Our brokenness may seem an unlikely object of transformation. Can beauty emerge from the raw material? Our frail earthen vessel may be more apparent to us than the treasure within (2 Cor. 4:7).
But as we choose to receive God again and again, the lamp of Jesus lights a way. Through ongoing submission to Christ and His Body, we are transformed. We need not preach a message incongruent with our inmost parts. With Jesus’ help, we embody His beauty.
1 Karol Wojtyla, God is Beauty: A Retreat on the Gospel and Art (Theology of the Body Institute Press, 2021), 20.
2 Ibid, 53.