’There is a man sleeping down there!’ Upset Christy came back up again, after she had gone down to get her bike from the shed in the basement of our apartment. She was about to go to church to help the technical team. I went down with her, and indeed there we found a man sleeping, apparently a homeless man with a smell of alcohol around him.

I kindly requested him to go find some other place and let him out. Christy left on her bike and I went back up. Only then I realized what I had done. I had sent away Jesus. On the very first day of the year. Right before I was going to church.

How terrible I felt! And how hollow did this entire church service seem with beautiful songs, a great sermon and happy New Year wishing, after that I had failed to have compassion with a fellow human. This is what I preach about all the time, this is what my mission ministry is all about: to give hands and feet to the good news of God’s love in Christ right here and right now. And the very first opportunity to put that into practice I mercilessly let pass.

I don’t share this in a blog because of some self-flagellation; that doesn’t really bring any good. The reason is more that it made me even more aware of the reason why we are here in this world. I think it is to represent Jesus, to show Him to the world around us. Nothing else, and no more than that. Because only that is able to bring change in the broken lives of people.

The other reason that I write about this, is that it made me even more aware of how desperately I need grace. I fail over and over again when it comes to representing Jesus in this real world; I rather think of my own convenience and comfort. I blow it over and over again and need to go back to God for forgiveness and renewal. And perhaps that might contain an encouragement when you are also like that and always sadly face your own failing: I pray that with me you also find rest in God’s grace and forgiveness. For He knows how we are formed. And with that pray for more of the heart and the eyes of Jesus; pray for a new chance. And perhaps also sometimes gratefully celebrate the little successes, when we manage to overcome our own self with the love of Jesus and have compassion with others.