The Discipline of Esthetic Appreciation

Lesson 1998
Tags: Beauty; Art; Nature
Excerpted from “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”: Spiritual Disciplines for Devotional Vitality

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Ps 19.1).


  • The discipline of esthetic appreciation is probably one of the least practiced of the disciplines. Many Christians may not even be aware that the appreciation of beauty can strengthen their relationship with God.
  • The Scriptures give numerous indications of the fact that beauty—both natural and artistic—is important to God (Schaeffer “Art & the Bible” 6-31). God himself is beautiful, and proper worship must take this into account (e.g., 1 Chr 16.29; 2 Chr 20.21; Ps 27.4; 29.2; 90.17; 96.6, 9). The Bible is a work of literary art. God’s design for the tabernacle was one of breathtaking beauty. The Jerusalem Temple was spectacular in esthetic quality.
  • Throughout church history, numerous forms of art have been put to the service of Christian truth. However, we should acknowledge that even “secular” art can reflect true beauty, and as such can enhance our relationship with God.


Creativity Is One Aspect of Spiritual Living

“For a Christian, redeemed by the work of Christ and living within the norms of Scripture and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Lordship of Christ should include an interest in the arts” (Schaeffer “Art & the Bible” 10). “Is the creative part of our life committed to Christ? Christ is the Lord of our whole life and the Christian life should produce not only truth—flaming truth—but also beauty” (31).

  • Esthetic appreciation can help us to be more spiritually sensitive. However, balance is the key: While God intends for us to see in his creation a reflection of his own attributes (Ps 19.1-6; Rom 1.19-20), we must avoid the excess of worshiping nature (Rom 1.25). Not only can we appreciate the beauty found in nature, it seems that all forms of art (music, literature, architecture, painting, etc.) are expressions of creative power that reflect our creation in the image of our Creator.


Project an image of a nature scene on the wall and play a peaceful instrumental piece. Ask the participants to meditate on and praise God for the beauty of his creation.

Further Reading

Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. Rev. ed. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988, pp. 31, 73-74, 198-199.

Gaebelein, Frank E. The Christian, the Arts, and Truth: Regaining the Vision of Greatness. Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1985.

Hull, Gregory A. “Practicing the Arts.” Bible-Science News Nov. 1995: 22-24.

Ryken, Leland. Culture in Christian Perspective: A Door to Understanding & Enjoying the Arts. Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1986.

Schaeffer, Francis A. Art & the Bible: Two Essays. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973.

Schaeffer, Franky. Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christians and the Arts. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1985.