Your Creativity and The Story of Christmas
Your creativity is anchored in the story of Christmas. No matter the medium. It doesn’t even matter whether you are aware of this truth. Your creativity is an echo of the creativity of God. It could not be otherwise. God created all of life. Then God created you, and made you in His image. He gave you the desire to bring order out of chaos, to tell stories, to express yourself to others, and to share your creativity with others. This is part of the nature of God which He has also given to us. But how do we see this creativity played out in the Christmas story? How should that story inform and inspire our own creative endeavors?
From ideas that germinate in your heart, to the creative act of bringing those ideas into the world, your creative process was designed by God to echo His creative process. The creativity we see in the Christmas story is anchored in four core concepts: First, it is something personal. Second, it is sacrificial. Third, it is a gift. Fourth, it is motivated by love. These are the same concepts that were designed by God to be experienced and expressed by artists and creative professionals. If we break these concepts down we can see clearly how it both inspires and influences our personal creative process.
Beware The Ugly Exception
Now, to be sure there are people who are creating art out of ungodly desires and out of principles hostile to the Gospel. They may seek to shock, offend and divide their audiences. Or maybe they seek to use kitsch and sentimentality to give people warm feelings, while lulling them to sleep and leading them to get lost in nostalgia. Both of these approaches lead audiences away from the Gospel, and fail to be life-giving. Thus, they fail to echo the creativity of God. The examples are endless, but their result is singular: distractions from what is true, good and beautiful. This is why it is helpful to meditate upon the creativity of God and how it informs our creativity.
Creativity Was Designed To Be Personal
The Christmas story is deeply personal for God. It is the clear moment when Christ, the Son of God, took on flesh, and entered the stage in order to express and demonstrate His love. He wasn’t content to only send messengers as He had done previously with the prophets. Now, one member of the Trinity became vulnerable, meeting us face to face and getting personal. It wasn’t a big production, with amazing special effects, meant to dazzle us. It was a personal mission meant to impact our hearts and lives. He did it because of His personal commitment to do whatever it takes to rescue us from sin. The understated power and profound nature of this personal expression of love.
“Art must be an expression of love, or it is nothing.” – Marc Chagall
In the same manner your art is designed to be personal. Your gift is meant to personally engage and inspire others. God did not give you a gift so that you could “phone it in,” or so you could create forgettable background music. (I remember my best friend’s father joking about how no one starts a music career to have their songs arranged and made palatable for Muzak, but the royalties ease the pain). Your art is meant to touch lives and hearts, because you are made in the image of the God for whom creation and the incarnation were deeply personal. Grand light shows, and fireworks can amplify great art, but they cannot make up for impersonal, shallow, art. Audiences yearn for art that speaks to them personally, because they know what it is to experience great art.
Creativity Was Designed To Be Sacrificial
The Christmas story is deeply sacrificial. He did not narrate the story from afar. He left the comforts of heaven and came to earth. Jesus “emptied Himself of all but love” (Philippians 2:6-8). He risked encountering everything we encounter: love, abandonment, betrayal, friendship, denial, etc. without sacrifice we would not have the incarnation of God himself.
“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something,
then you’re more willing to take risks.” – Yo-Yo Ma
In the same manner your art is intended to be sacrificial. Art created without any cost is often flat and boring. The audience longs for something more. In fact, the audience has a sixth sense as to whether you “have skin in the game,” or whether you are dancing around the heart of the issue. Nothing speaks to people like the work of an artist who is willing to be vulnerable and willing to sacrifice their comfort or their reputation in order to take new risks in their art.
Creativity Was Designed To Be a Gift
The Christmas story is a gift. Whereas some artists create art to draw attention to themselves, and other artists create art to become famous, God’s art is done in order to be a blessing to the audience. He doesn’t need to draw attention to Himself. He does not need anything. His art is both a blessing to others, and an invitation for people to look beyond the gift and see the heart of such a giving God.
“Creative work is a gift to the world and every being in it.
Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” – Steven Pressfield
In the same manner your art is intended to be a gift. No matter the project, art is a gift to your audience. It is so easy to get lost in the pursuit of success, money and fame. Those may come, but art that is only about the artist is selfish art. Art that speaks to others powerfully, does so because it is a gift to that audience.
Creativity Was Designed To Be the Product of Love
The Christmas story is also a product of love. God did not become a baby for any other reason but for love. Creation was also made for the same reason and the same purpose. God wanted communion with us and He loves us. Adam and Eve left the garden after they sinned, but right away God had a plan to show His love for us and to restore fellowship with us. All of this is true because God is love. It is an essential part of His nature. From before Creation, and throughout eternity, God keeps pursuing us and loving us.
“There is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.” – Vincent van Gogh
In the same manner your art is intended to be born of love. Any other purpose will lead you astray. We have see many actors and musicians come to L.A. for the wrong reason. They want to be famous, or wealthy, or earn the top awards. Those are all fine things, but they do not satisfy your own heart, nor your audience. The core thing that cannot be faked, is art created out of a love for your audience. This naturally requires excellence, talent and skill. How could you make art that loves the audience well without those components. But those components alone are not enough. It must come from a heart of love.
Your creative process was designed by God to echo His creative process. The more we understand this undercurrent within our souls, the more we find freedom to echo the love of our savior in our art. The creativity we see in the Christmas story is anchored in the very character and nature of God.
Have you experienced this?
Do you see this in your art?
Does this inspire you to dig deeper, and to love your audience through your art?
Leave your comments below, and let’s continue to explore these themes.
To get our FREE weekly devotion for artists and receive our weekly e-news CLICK HERE
Copyright © 2023 Joel & Michelle Pelsue. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.