According to theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jesus is the supreme form of beauty perceivable to humanity. Jesus is God incarnate, which makes the perfect beauty of God graspable. Humans cannot comprehend the transcendence of God, but because the incarnate God became immanent, perception of the fullness of his humanity, and therefore perception the fullness of God’s beauty dwells in Jesus Christ through the incarnation.
The Body of Christ: Humanity’s Reflection of Christ’s Form
In the biblical text, there are multiple times where the people of God in the New Testament are referred to as the Body of Christ. One such example can be seen in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 19-20, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many… if all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
This passage places an emphasis on oneness in Christ and the Spirit, there is also a clear argument that in one body there are many members. These many members have distinctions in what they bring to the body, and together with distinction and diversity the body functions as it is intended to.
Diversity in the Body of Christ as a Display of Christ’s Beauty
An emphasis on the intention of the body of Christ to be one, but also to be made up of many different, distinct and diverse members is clear throughout the New Testament. Unity and diversity are often seen side by side as two parts of what the people of God are called to be. It would be difficult to make an argument for either unity or diversity without noting that the other needs to be held in tension with it according to the biblical text. In Ephesians 4, an argument for both unity and diversity is made, so that a believer can mature to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). In this passage it is clear that unity and diversity, held together in tension, help to transform Christians who are able to be unified with one another while maintaining their distinctions and diversity.
Transformation into the likeness of Christ makes the Christians have the same appeal and beauty that Christ displays in his incarnate form. If the people of God lack either unity or diversity they lack what the biblical text is calling them to as the body of Christ. As the body of Christ, Christians are called to be like Christ, displaying His beauty that attracts rather than repels, while growing in unity and diversity to the measure of the fullness of Christ.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.