When Bad Christians Happen to Good People
I must begin with some words of disclosure. I am a hypocrite. I can be arrogant and selfish. I have been known to stretch, conceal, or slightly massage the truth. I am sometimes inconsiderate and insecure. I struggle with lust and impure thoughts. My ego often rages out of control, and I battle foolish pride. I can be lazy and foolhardy with my time. I get angry, petty, and ill tempered. I am sarcastic and cynical.
I am a Christian.
That is how I started this book when it was first published. As I look back over those words nearly a decade later I have a sad confession to make. I have made some progress yet all of the disclaimers I wrote about then are still in play today. A lot has changed in my life since that first edition went to press. One of the dangers of writing is that your words go into your permanent record. If you write something that you regret you cannot seek deferred adjudication or buy up all of the copies in existence. Actually I might be able to do that with my incredibly modest selling second book but that is another story.
When I wrote the first edition of this book I was a little angry. Okay, at times I was a lot angry. I had seen and experienced the damage that is done by those claiming the name of Christ while demonstrating virtually none of His teachings. I wrote with passion and honesty. In retrospect perhaps a little too much honesty came out of my passion. God has taught me a lot since the original version of this book arrived in book stores. This revision will reflect some of that journey. My wife’s trial with breast cancer and more pain from the church further defined my walk with Christ. But one significant event has changed my very relationship with Jesus and forms the basis of a brand new chapter (no peeking for repeat readers…you will know which one).
So I get the rare author mulligan. A blessed do over. A chance to put at least a clarifying note into my permanent record. And I am grateful to my friends at WaterBrook Press for the chance. This book started with an honest declaration of my brokenness and shortcomings. That I can be a bit of a jerk and I am a Christian.That surprised a lot of you. It shouldn’t have. If there is one theme about our faith that should be communicated it is that we all fall short of the mark. That is why we need a Savior. Author Max Lucado has a wonderful line. He says that God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. So all of us believers are somewhere on that continuum of where we started and where God wants us to be. But that realization seems to penetrate our thinking only sporadically. In fact, there are those among us who will call me a counterfeit since I admit to such unflattering traits. They will write and tell me that if I had their brand of faith, I would be above any of these sins all of the time. I believe they would be wrong.
(The new edition has a lot of new content and a study guide for small group or individual study. Check it out at Amazon.com.)