Harding produces some amazing graduates. Harding is flawed. Harding is made up of people who do wonderful things and people who do stupid things, but it will always be true that somehow, Harding produces some amazing graduates.
One of them is Mike Lewis, otherwise known at the Jesus Painter. You should visit his website.
When I did a Google image search for Jesus, there were many images to choose from. Classic art from every time period. Contemporary, cheesy “Jesus is my homeboy” type images, the shroud of Turin, still shots from movies like The Passion of the Christ, and the recent computer rendering of what scholars believe Jesus may have actually looked like.
In the middle of it was this very familiar picture by Mike. I wasn’t in Searcy when he was a Harding student, but I heard about him and, thankfully, the internet did exist then so I was able to check it out and see his artwork.
This picture captures me. This picture is my Jesus. He looks straight into my soul, sees through the layers of weariness and dishonesty and shows my own heart to me.
We define ourselves in many ways. It’s easy to say, “my mom is bipolar,” (although I don’t say that) or “my son is diabetic,” (although I don’t say that either.) My mom has bipolar disorder. My son has diabetes. Those aspects of their personhood do not define them. Affect them? Yes. Tell who they are? No.
I am — you are — a child of God. That is the definition of who we are. I am a child of God who will struggle with body image and eating issues all of my life. I have been teased and verbally abused for being overweight, even when I was not. None of that defines me.
So what does define me? Who am I?
John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I have been bought with a price and I belong to God.
1 Corinthians 12:27 I am a member of Christ’s body.
Ephesians 1:3-8 I have been chosen by God and adopted as His child.
Colossians 1:13-14 I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
Colossians 2:9-10 I am complete in Christ.
Hebrews 4:14-16 I have direct access to the throne of grace through Jesus Christ.
I am secure…
Romans 8:1-2 I am free from condemnation.
Romans 8:28 I am assured that God works for my good in all circumstances.
Romans 8:31-39 I am free from any condemnation brought against me and I cannot be separated from the love of God.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 I have been established, anointed and sealed by God.
Colossians 3:1-4 I am hidden with Christ in God.
Philippians 1:6 I am confident that God will complete the good work He started in me.
Philippians 3:20 I am a citizen of heaven.
2 Timothy 1:7 I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.
1 John 5:18 I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me.
I am significant…
John 15:5 I am a branch of Jesus Christ, the true vine, and a channel of His life.
John 15:16 I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit.
1 Corinthians 3:16 I am God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 I am a minister of reconciliation for God.
Ephesians 2:6 I am seated with Jesus Christ in the heavenly realm.
Ephesians 2:10 I am God’s workmanship.
Ephesians 3:12 I may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
Because we are called to be Jesus to one another, there will be times I will look at you with piercing eyes and try to help you cut through the layers of dishonesty and world weariness and help you see what is at the core of your being. We don’t — I don’t — always live as if these things were true. Father forgive us when we fall short and settle for the much smaller versions of ourselves we are tempted to hand onto.