The Church Christian Living

The “God Aesthetic”

Taelor Gray

“I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:8-11

At first glance, what we see in this Psalm is another expression of praise from King David. However, what is peculiar about this particular song is how the elation and expressive nature of his offerings transcend to a prophetic unction, which translates to a first-person declaration of Christ himself. What I’d like to extract from this passage is less about drawing parallels from the Messianic emphasis of the Psalm, but rather peer into the Holy Spirit inspired words that vividly illuminate Christ’s joy.

Verse 8 says, “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” Such a declaration emanates the fullest of trust that the Son had in the Father. The unwavering confidence Christ had in the Father translated to a supernaturally rich, Holy Spirit-saturated sense of gladness, so much so that his “whole being rejoices” (vs. 9).

Do You Rejoice?

Pause. Please let us get a sense of the awesome reality found in the whole being of the God Man Jesus rejoicing in the faithfulness of the Father.

What worship! What pure adoration and outpouring of praise it must be to fully comprehend the goodness of God as God toward God! Such things are too high for us!

Christ then reinforces his confidence in the perfect will of the Father by articulating a beyond-death scenario that does not “abandon his soul to Sheol” or “let the Holy One see corruption” (vs. 10). Christ’s preemptive celebration again details complete trust in the fact that his holy body will never know the stench of decomposition nor suffer the captivity of the grave. For that, David prophetically continues speaking as the Son, once again offering elation and rejoicing fully in the faithfulness of the Father.

This is nothing short of fascinating. Christ continues to say, “You make known to me the path of life.” This dialogue in verse 11 stirs my soul. [pullquote]The One called “The Resurrection and the Life” still did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped.[/pullquote] He acknowledges the work of the Spirit to reveal the truth of everlasting life.

Now, I’ll be honest. The second half of Verse 11 gets me every time: “in your presence there is fullness of joy.” No human being can comprehend this statement. We are given this powerful depiction of how the presence of God translates to being saturated with FULLNESS of joy. What an awe-inspiring snapshot of Jesus interacting with the Father.

Deep Theology, Deep Worship?

So, what are the takeaways? I submit to you a consideration what I have dubbed the “God Aesthetic.” As a young guy who grew up in the Pentecostal (or commonly termed—charismatic) church environment, I’ve never been a stranger to overt “expressiveness” in worship. [pullquote position=”right”]However, as I’ve transitioned to more reformed circles, I’ve found it startling to see that in spite of the deeply theological, richly crafted lyrics of hymns, emotionally overt displays are rare.[/pullquote] Why is that?

In so communicating this perception, I do not want to implicitly state that there is only one type of worshipful expression, best showcased by Pentecostal, black church folk. As a black man with the above stated origin, there are certain cultural cues that can arrest my senses in responding to the goodness of the Lord in praise and worship.

What I’d propose is that we examine ourselves and explore our God-given emotions and analyze appropriate responses to the richness of God’s glory. Clearly, the Son of Man’s entire fiber of his being was inclined to worship God in the fullness of joy. How can we allow ourselves to experience such a response? Are we allowing the Spirit to guide our emotions in the way we interpret “sensing” the presence of God? Have we so demonized emotion in corporate worship that we have quenched celebration and true, heartfelt expressions of joy?

Let us embrace the “God Aesthetic” and submit to the Spirit in our corporate worship settings and beyond. The goodness of God should prompt us to respond as we are directed by the indwelt Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. Let us tap into the fullness of joy and eat of its rich fruits. Let us worship in Spirit along with truth.

1 Comment

  1. george canady

    What would be your advice to one who has decided to intentionally transition out of the seen “circle”, while remaining in the unseen, into the one you came from to be an influence of what you now see.

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