A thousand years ago Prince Vladimir the Great, the pagan monarch of Kiev, was looking for a new religion to unify the Russian people. Toward this end Prince Vladimir sent out envoys to investigate the great faiths from the neighboring realms. The envoys who had investigated Christianity in the Byzantine capital of Constantinople reported finding a faith characterized by such transcendent beauty that they did not know if they were in heaven or on earth.
“Then we went to Constantinople and they led us to the place where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or earth, for on earth there is no such vision nor beauty, and we do not know how to describe it; we only know that God dwells among men. We cannot forget that beauty.”
Prince Vladimir adopted Christianity as the new faith for the Russian people. – Brian Zahnd(Beauty Will Save the World)
There is an existential and transcendent beauty about our faith. Christianity is far from cold and stale as some would suppose. It is more like the beauty of a fire, it catches our gaze with its ever changing yet perfectly steady flame. We’ve all spent at least one glorious night staring at the beauty of a fire. With every passing second the flame hypnotically dances about so that all who turn their attention to it get caught up in its splendor and wonder. What will it do next? Where will it turn? As the flame bends breaks from left to right it shoots sparks and ash into the air like a miniature volcano but our eyes never blink. Hour after hour we stare and peer into that dancing flame like we are looking into the soul of the universe. Every conversation, even what would normally be the dullest of topics, suddenly becomes irresistibly fascinating because of the beauty of the fire. This is our faith.
Our faith is beautiful because our God is beauty, the very definition and source of all that is beautiful. Our faith necessitates the rejection of the ugliness of sin, poverty, death, sickness, disease and sorrow. Sin cannot stand in the presence of God because sin is ugly and He is beauty. There is nothing and no one more beautiful than Jesus Christ. In fact He is described by the prophet Ezekiel and the apostle John as an amber flame burning from head to toe. He is seated upon a throne of fire that has wheels of fire, around which lampstands of fire burn day and night, with creatures and wheels of fire twisting and circling around His throne room. Ezekiel recounted his encounter by calling what he saw like a “great cloud with raging fire engulfing itself”.
Looking at Him is like peering into the mysterious beauty of an eternal all-consuming flame. His very essence is fire, His appearance glows like amber around and within, His throne is on fire and has wheels of flaming fire with a torrent of fire cascading from it like a mighty river; lampstands of fiery flames stand all around Him and creatures of flaming fire wind around His throne day and night.
This is beauty. This is our God. This is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Welcome to prayer! This is where every conversation becomes a passionate love song because it takes place around the fire. Where every moment becomes an epic story because it takes place around the fire. This is where friendship is forged, in the fire. This is prayer because this is who you are talking to. So next time you pray remember you are talking to beauty Himself. When you heart and mind begin to wander into boredom just remember where you stand, among the lampstands and living creatures, ask the Lord to open your eyes to see His beauty.
by Maxwell Thomas
Max and his wife Steffaney have been part of the leadership team of the Potter’s House of Prayer since December of 2013. They believe whole-heartedly that prayer is the primary calling of every believer and should be the principal activity of the local church.
Max was first marked with the calling to pray in late 2007 and has had a number of dramatic prophetic encounters since then. These clear prophetic words act as stones that simply lay upon the foundational teachings of the Scriptures that call all believers to live lives of prayer and worship. Max met his wife Steffaney while both attended school at Minnesota State University in Mankato. While they were dating Stef spent 4 months in Mozambique, Africa at the Iris School of Missions under Rolland and Heidi Baker. During her time their the Holy Spirit marker her heart for the broken and marginalized while also calling her to the place of prayer as the primary mode to release justice in the earth.
Max and Stef’s dream is to establish a prayer culture in the city of Mankato that brings about regional transformation in every realm of culture and society. From that place of breakthrough they desire to go and establish Houses of Prayer among unreached people groups that will ultimately help usher in the return of Christ as the nations join together in prayer and worship.