In case anyone is wondering, the General Conference building (where we are located as part of the North American Division office), is mostly not very exciting. There are lots of cubicles and copy machines and computer screens. Once the excitement wears off with the “famous Adventist sightings,” it pretty much looks like most office buildings. But there have been a few additions lately that have changed that a bit. One is an art gallery called “Eden to Eden”—a collection of paintings by Adventist artists depicting scenes from Genesis to Revelation. A few months ago, a new painting showed up—freshly finished by Lars Justinen. It moved me to tears—literally. I’m not an art expert, and I don’t consider myself overly emotional, so that actually means something. Even now, I can’t keep my eyes off of it every time I pass by. (Are you curious yet?)
The picture shows Jesus kneeling down and looking into the face of a leper, who is sitting on the ground. The leper’s face is horribly disfigured, but shows surprise as he looks wide-eyed into Jesus’ face. And then there is Jesus’ face. It is full of emotion—surprise, pain, compassion, and maybe even a little bit of anger. It’s like Jesus sees the pain of a sinful world written all over this man’s face, and it cuts Him to His core. It draws Him to the man, and He reaches for the man’s diseased hand. You get the feeling that He’s not leaving until that leper knows he is loved and knows he is clean.
When I look at that picture, I see myself. I am that leper, with a heart disfigured by selfishness and pride. But when I look up at Jesus’ face, I am startled at His overflowing compassion. I don’t see the condemnation, disappointment, or rejection I expect. He doesn’t turn away, He reaches out to me. As I look into His face, I realize again how amazing His grace is—that He could love me as I am and make me whole and holy.
Just as breathtaking is the realization that I am called to also be like Jesus in that picture. To recognize the broken image of God in the most desperate faces; to not turn away in fear or disgust, but to draw near and not leave until they know they are loved and they know Who can make them clean. There is no greater honor on earth than this calling.
May you who have been called to this mission serve with all the courage, love, and strength Jesus gives you. And if you ever doubt your condition or calling, take the time to look again into His face and be amazed.
“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. ‘If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,’ he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be healed!’” – Mark 1:40-41
*Once or twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers. This was written by Andrea Keele, and sent on January 6, 2016.