I received a Christmas card from a friend of mine and her beautiful family was standing in front of the ocean, their outfits perfectly matching, smiling. When I complimented her on it, she confessed that her family was miserable in that picture. Her kids were cranky, her husband was upset because it was taking so much time, and it cost way too much money. She sadly looked at that picture as a huge mistake – memories of frustration. Her card could’ve said, “If you only knew…” as easily as “Merry Christmas.” Another friend sent a refreshingly honest Christmas card. It revealed her five-year old daughter laughing and twirling, while her twin toddlers each threw a colossal temper tantrum – delightfully dressed, mind you.
We try so hard to convey meaning and significance with one picture, don’t we?
Thousands of individual points
I remember studying pointalism in an art class years ago and looking at Georges Seurat’s painting, A Sunday on La Grand Jatte.” I was so intrigued by the fact that standing up close, all you can see are dots – thousands of individual, lovingly placed points. A collection of paint. But when you step away – one step, two, ten – a picture of unmistakable beauty comes into focus. It’s so much bigger and well thought-out than you ever could have imagined mere inches from the canvas. And what’s breathtaking is not just the overall picture but also that the artist knew the piece well enough to place each distinct point of color in the exact place it needed to be to complete the masterpiece.
Now stop and think about the original Christmas picture. A baby in a manger – the Savior. A woman, unswervingly obedient to God. A man who believed. Up close, the picture is simple and beautiful. We see this image everywhere. We sing about it, wrap presents in it, inflate it and point lights at it in our front yards. But there’s so much more if we step back.
We’re not meant to stop at the manger
The Christmas story becomes bigger – we see God did not mean for us to stop at the manger. We’re meant to start there and then try to understand the masterpiece from His point of view. The nativity scene paints a much broader picture of God’s love for us than we see at first glance. God sent His Son for us. To save us. Because He loves us.
God had a very explicit plan to rescue us with this Savior child, and this plan includes a relationship with Him that doesn’t stop at the manger. When we realize that Jesus was sent to love us and die for our sins, and to prepare a way for us to live in eternity with God, the manger is just the beginning.
Living out of the abundant gift
God’s gift to us at Christmas is the promise that He sees us, He hears us, He knows our need for a Savior and nothing would stop Him from giving that gift to us. Can we relish in this overflowing love that took its form as an infant and receive it as if it were giftwrapped just for us? If we do, we can live out of that great abundance and serve others and love lavishly in response to this precious Jesus gift. It’s not just a baby and a manger and some exhausted parents in a barn. It’s an invitation into a relationship with our Creator. Oh, the beauty of seeing Christmas from the Artist’s perspective!
I believe every moment we live purposefully for Jesus is a lovingly placed point of color that contributes to the glory of God. It is my wish that we take the time to savor the up-close beauty of Jesus’ birth while fully understanding the immense miracle of God’s big picture.
This season, let us see the point of it all. It makes for a fantastic, one-of-a-kind Christmas card, if you ask me.