When I was regularly writing for a church newsletter I had a “friend” whom I used to illustrate points – usually negative ones. “Johan vander Bakslijder” was my fictional creation who was involved in things that one hoped that the congregation wasn’t – even though I knew that some were. It was a way of raising issues without accusing people directly and without making the climate too uncomfortable.
But if the truth be known, often Johan’s struggles mirrored mine. In fact there is a bit of Johan or his wife Johanna in each one of us.
We Christians are a fragile lot. I am fragile. How often I am disappointed with a sharp undisciplined word that comes from my mouth, or a sudden rise in temperature when my toes are trodden on … or an improper thought inveigles itself into my mind. Daily through my foolishness I am reminded that God’s grace needs to be my constant companion. He needs to look at me through His “Christ coloured glasses” or else I would be in deep trouble.
But not only do I need that grace but also the people around me – people whom too often I am tempted to judge. People who have not encountered Jesus. People who also need to know that their brokenness can be forgiven and dealt with. Who is going to tell them or show them unless it is “Johan” or “Johanna” who can attest to the joy of having been forgiven and who continue to be forgiven daily despite their failings.