So our book "Bad Christian, Great Savior" has been out for a little while now and if you haven't read it, why are you still reading this? Go get your copy right now! But in all seriousness, we've had some amazing feedback from the book from readers like you. We wanted to highlight one in particular from a reader named Jordan, as he reflects on the chapter "Toby Said What?!" Enjoy!
A Reader’s Reflection of “Bad Christian, Great Savior”
Chapter entitled: “Toby Said What?!”
By Jordan Vaughn:
When I struggled with sexual purity (like yesterday), I always thought the answer was to fight as hard as I could to look at women differently or not masturbate. Never in my life would I consider talking to a pastor about the addiction that was destroying me. The last thing I wanted to do was get judged, or worse, have my salvation questioned. I found myself repeating a sinner’s prayer at night just in case I missed a part and wasn’t actually saved in the first place. My entire identity had been built around the idea that “this is how a Christian looks, acts, talks, etc.,” and not only could I not even touch the bottom rung of the ladder, I had the audacity to judge the salvation of the people around me simply because I could (publically) top their morality. On their backs I reached higher.
“How often do we write someone off as a Christian because they aren’t acting like one?” This is the question that continued to echo in my mind after I read the “Toby Said What?” section ofBad Christian, Great Savior. Jesus addresses this question in Luke 18 through a parable about a Pharisee and tax collector going to the temple to pray. The religious teacher was so full of his own pride and self-righteousness that he actually thanked God for how morally good he was, while the tax collector would not even dare lift his head, but rather, with sorrow, begged for mercy. So which one was the real believer? The irony of this is that the religious teacher would have known the scriptures where Isaiah compares our self-righteousness to filthy rags.
It wasn’t until I met Jesus that I discovered the same hypocrisy in me. Suddenly it wasn’t about trying my hardest to follow the “do and do not lists” of Christianity, but understanding that the only purpose of the rules were to show me how screwed I was when trying to keeping them on my own. I needed a savior. When Paul was in prison, he wrote the church of Philippi telling them that Jesus was the one that started the good work in them, and that He would complete it. Instead of trying to stop masturbating, I focused on Jesus. Rather than staring down at the floor to avoid immodestly dressed women (although, this still isn’t a bad idea), I kept my eyes on my Great Savior. I stopped trying to sin less, and instead let Jesus work out my salvation. This didn’t mean I didn’t read my bible and pray, it meant that I did those things out of a response to what Jesus did rather than what I wanted Him to do. Freedom from sin is a product of grace-driven effort in pursuing Jesus, not the fruit of pursuing moral self-righteousness.
This idea not only transforms how we look at ourselves, but also the people around us. People aren’t yardsticks to measure our own goodness, but fellow Bad Christians pursuing a Great Savior. As Joey said, this doesn’t mean that we grow tolerant of the shortcomings of other brothers and sisters, but that we have understanding and love because we know how wretched we are without Christ. An understanding of that dependency produces the humility that helps us understand what “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” really means. To reference Paul again, throughout his life he referred to himself in a progression that illustrates what it means to become more aware of our own sin: the least of the apostles, then the least of all Christians, and finally the chief of all sinners. The only thing that changed was how much Paul chose to see truth and His need for Jesus.
Thanking Jordan for his thoughts on our book.