Beauty Desires You

by Andre Rabe

God desires more than a business partner; he desires your flesh where divine possibilities seek existence.

Beautiful possibilities are calling you, and you have something essential for these to be realized. The creative process by which possibilities become actualities has much to do with your desire. I’m excited to explore the relationship between possibilities, who you are, your desires, and the creative process by which beauty can find a home in your existence.

In Greek mythology, the god Kairos was pictured as a fast-running athlete with a lock of hair on his forehead. It was said that he moved so fast that you could only grasp him as he ran towards you; the moment he passed, it was too late. And so Kairos was used to symbolize opportunity. Desire prepares us to grab Kairos by his lock of hair. There is something unique about who you are, the moment you find yourself in, and the opportunities open to you.

We are all part of an enormous cosmic story filled with surprising twists and turns. The beauty, diversity, and complexity we see around us are astonishing. Some find the uniqueness of life on earth so surprising that they consider it an anomaly. Many others, including myself and the author of the gospel of John, believe there is an underlying logic to this beauty.

John speaks about the mind of God, the “logos,” becoming flesh. This event has become known as the incarnation. The idea was scandalous for it apparently confused the utter unapproachable holiness of God with the ordinary, tangible material of human life. The fact that God is a separate entity, completely other from creation, is ancient in origin but still rather popular today. John introduces a completely new perspective: a God who is entangled in our existence, not so much a distant personality as a present possibility seeking actualization in our lives. Although the historic Jesus is unique, he came to unveil a process of incarnation that is ongoing in all creation. How, then, does the “logos” that John speaks of, this divine logic, become manifest in reality?

Let’s first consider the nature of possibilities. Modern science tells us that the early stages of our universe consisted of simple elements in clouds of gas. If anyone could have witnessed this early stage, they would never have imagined that from these simple and lifeless elements would come butterflies and butternuts, much less the phenomenon of consciousness! Our cosmic story has a clear trajectory towards greater diversity, beauty, and complexity that cannot be explained from a purely materialistic perspective. Something else draws creation forward. Beyond the visible is a realm vibrating with creative possibilities, inviting the seen to transcend itself. I think this is what John intuitively knew, and he named it the Logos—the logic or mind of God.

The history of our cosmos is the story of this partnership between immaterial mind and material reality. This relentless unfolding of creative novelty eventually produced something so complex that it could contemplate its own existence and appreciate the beauty of the universe that produced it—human consciousness. The advent of consciousness marks a new chapter in this cosmic drama, for it allows for the creation of meaning and so opens up the inner story of our cosmos. Where would this radically new capacity lead?

Well, the direction was not clear at first. This new chapter—the emergence of human consciousness—seemed to produce a new intensity of both good and evil. Human history includes both beauty and horror, love, and violence. How can the movement towards beauty and goodness be assured while humans have the freedom to be creatively evil? Is it possible for humans to move freely in the same direction as John’s divine logos? The story of Jesus answers that question with a resounding “Yes!” As a human, just like us, He consistently chose to partner with God, to realize the good and the beautiful. Was he an anomaly? Did Jesus come to boast and show us what we could never be? No! He unveiled what is possible for each of us.

What is it about human consciousness that intensifies both good and evil? This brings us to our second consideration—the role of human desire.

Desire moves us. It can be intense, persistent, and more persuasive than rationality. In its twisted form, it becomes jealous, deceitful, and even murderous. All religions are keenly aware of the dangers of desire. Buddhism, for instance, sees desire as the source of suffering. There is something true about that view, but there are also positive aspects to desire. Desire for the good of another is at the heart of loving relationships. Many heroic stories are of those who intentionally gave themselves for the benefit of others. Having similar desires or interests as others is the very basis of growing friendships. The desire for meaning and knowledge has propelled our civilizations forward. I can go on and on, but I hope the point is clear: desire can be both destructive and positively creative.

What is different about human consciousness that makes desire such a powerful force? Consciousness of self, if not uniquely human, is highly developed in humans. The anthropologist/philosopher Rene Girard showed how desire does not originate in self but, actually, forms a sense of self. Self originates in desire rather than desire in the self. This gives us new insight into the very operation of desire. If someone withholds what I desire, I perceive it not only as a lack of the object I desire, but as a lack of being—an attack on my self! It also means that pursuing my desires can become irrationally intense, for what I’m actually pursuing is a sense of self that satisfies. Girard brilliantly showed how much of our desires are unconsciously mirrored from, or mediated by, others whose “being” we desire. Advertisers exploit this knowledge and suggest that if only you bought their product, you would become the person you always wanted to be!

Jesus seemed to have understood this dynamic movement between desire, a sense of self, and the relationships we find ourselves in. He consciously chose the one “for whom all things are possible” to be the source of his desires and, consequently, the source of his being. He does not do his own will (desire), but his very sustenance is to do the will of him who sent him (John 4:34). Jesus only does what he sees the Father doing (John 5:16).

How does he “see” the Father? How does this process work? This brings us to our last consideration: the creative process.

The four gospels tell us that Jesus often drew aside. I think Jesus himself gives us some insight into this practice of solitude when he teaches about the branches abiding in the vine and concludes by saying: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).

Remaining, or as some translations have it, abiding, suggests something more than an occasional visit. It speaks of being at home—at peace. Just as a branch does not worry about putting out its own roots, but simply abides in the vine, we can find a place in which there is no consciousness of lack, and abide there.

In the Greek language in which the text was written, the rest of the sentence follows a simple sequence, namely: you will desire, you will ask, it will be created.

The desires born from this place of abiding are not formed by a sense of lack. Rather, they are birthed from peace and contentment. It is here where I find my connection to the vine, to my source, here where I do not sustain my own identity but discover myself as part of divine life, that a new kind of desire is born. For this desire is motivated by the superabundance of the God of possibility, rather than my sense of inadequacy. Remember, we are considering how Jesus cultivated divine desires in order to manifest divine possibilities.

Can you see how this practice of abiding in Christ, of letting go of all the pursuits and demands of everyday life and simply resting in the presence of God, not only brings peace but prepares us for unique moments of opportunity that will come our way? Desire will sharpen our recognition, and will embolden us to ask, and it will be our Abba’s delight to give us the desires of our heart (see Ps 37:4).

So much of our identities, individually and nationally, have been formed by a sense of lack and the twisted desire to take from others what we think we lack in ourselves. Jesus modelled a new way of being. Perceiving God as the superabundant source of possibilities, and living from that sense of fullness by giving ourselves for the benefit of others, restores the trajectory of this cosmic story. The incarnation continues . . . in you!

Question: Can desire be a creative force?

Andre Rabe is Professor of Theology at Mimesis Academy ( and Doctoral Student in Open and Relational Theology at Northwind Theological Seminary. Rabe is the author of numerous books, including Creative Chaos. He blogs at


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To purchase the book from which this essay comes, see Partnering with God: Exploring Collaboration in Open and Relational Theology.