Worst of Sinners
by Cassie Harris
When I was growing up, the generations before me were still struggling with believing life was (almost) all about reputation. If you shared your lifelessons with anyone younger than you, your sin needed to smack of holiness because, well, you were a Christian, right? That was all fine and good when dealing with things like gluttony, pride and disrespect. Those were the “Christian” sins.
But dealing with sins on the level of sexual sins, addictions, or manipulation? We can’t Christianize those sins, so we didn’t talk about them. Or, if we did talk of any “serious” sins like those (they all separate us from God – they’re all serious), they were addressed using such broad terms, I left feeling very confused and like I couldn’t be a Christian and have questions about those things. But then I felt betrayed when I found out secondhand the Christian who shushed my questions was the very brother or sister in Christ who shared my silent frustrations.
One of my strongest fears as someone who journals her prayers is that someone will read my heart’s cries long before I’m ready to share them. However, on the flipside, there’s also this innate desire to hand these heartfelt prayers to my future children as a way to remind them their mama never had it together perfectly either. With that desire in mind, I find myself wanting to manicure my prayers so I don’t have to revisit my struggles’ shame if my children read about my journey to become more like Christ.
Paul of Tarsus, one of the key writers of the New Testament, was self-proclaimed, “… The worst of sinners… (1 Timothy 1:15),” yet he had one of the strongest stances on redemption, justice, mercy and grace. He did not budge when it came to what was/is expected from a follower of Jesus Christ. Though he did everything within his will to lead by example, he did not hide his sordid past. If Paul didn’t, why do we?
I completely understand there’s a time and a place for transparency. Though Paul was open about his past, we didn’t see him divulging everything he’d ever done every time he opened his mouth to speak about grace and redemption. But even still, when the opportunity presented itself to show people he struggled, he did it openly. That openness only comes with the understanding that it’s ultimately about eternal redemption, not temporary reputation.