The following is an excerpt from Perfect and Forgiven by Zach Maldonado. It’s a featured Speakeasy selection, and there are still limited review copies available for qualified reviewers.
I’ve been hurt deeply. I’ve experienced the shame of sin. I’ve made stupid mistakes. I’ve been cheated on and lied to, and I’ve always struggled with lies about who I am. Can you relate? Maybe it’s depression, sexual sin, or addictions; all of these struggles—and many more—convince us that something is wrong with us.
Everything I’d gone through was evidence enough to convince me that there was something uniquely wrong with who I was. Not only did I think other people felt this way, but I believed God did too. Shame convinced me of the lie that there was nothing I or anyone else could do to make me loveable, accepted, or whole.
At one point in my life, I thought the answer to my problem was trying harder. You know, going to church, praying, and believing harder. Then I determined that I needed to do more for God, so I volunteered more and witnessed more and went to church twice a week. Then I thought that maybe I needed to be better, so I tried my hardest to not sin and to live perfectly.
After years of trying harder, doing more, and being better, I gave up. It’s not that going to church, praying, volunteering, witnessing, and doing things for God are wrong. They’re not. But when you don’t understand the true message of Christianity, all that is just religion. And religion offers no life. What we need is not more rules and things to do, but Jesus Christ. We need good news, not good advice. We need life, not behavior modification. We need relationship, not religion.
I, like so many others, boiled the message of Christianity down to one slogan: “not perfect, just forgiven.” Most of the time, I barely believed I was forgiven. But I knew for sure I was far from perfect and that God saw me as a filthy, worthless sinner.
Then one day I realized that the good news of Jesus Christ is more than being forgiven and then going to heaven when I die. The message isn’t just about what Christ did for us, but also what He did to us through the cross and resurrection. The Bible actually says that in Christ, I’ve been perfected forever (Heb. 10:14). Although I still mess up and sin each day, God has given me an identity apart from what I do or what I’ve done.
So what if we could live our lives from a foundation that will never change? What if there’s nothing uniquely wrong with who you are? And what if what Christ did to you is real and can change how you see yourself and live each day?
This book offers a new way to live. A new way to see yourself. Healing for your hurts and a path toward freedom from your past, your self-hate, and the pressure of measuring up. I’ve experienced the disappointment that the popular Christian message offers. But I’ve discovered that who we truly are is not found in what we’ve done or what we’ve gone through. In Perfect and Forgiven, I take you into my own journey of identity, and with humor, vulnerability, and a unique story-driven format, I reveal how to live free from shame, guilt, and sin.
Praise for Perfect and Forgiven
“Zach Maldonado has been radically and authentically undone by grace. He is also gifted to communicate like few others. Those realities combined allow truth, lived out, to jump from the page. He is smart, vulnerable, and funny, funny, and funny. I think you will love this book.”
—John Lynch, Author of On My Worst Day and co-author of The Cure
“Zach unpacks powerful Biblical truths, raw and transparent stories from his own testimony and many inspirational examples to help you unlock the God-given potential lying dormant inside.”
—Dave Willis, Best-selling author of The Seven Laws of Love and TV and Podcast Host for MarriageToday
“Perfect and Forgiven is a wonder of practical beauty and theological truth! I laughed, gasped, marveled and cried when reading Zach Maldonado’s book, because the God I know, who speaks to me and motivates me, moved through its pages. If you know—or have yet to know—the God of all grace, get this book. You”ll be deeply moved.”
—Ralph Harris, Best-selling author of Life According to Perfect, and God’s Astounding Opinion of You
“This book is such a beautiful reminder of God’s relentless, radical grace. It inspires and challenges us to reject the narrative of shame, accept that we are accepted, and live out our identity as sons and daughters of God.”
—Dominic Done, Lead Pastor at Westside: A Jesus Church and author of When Faith Fails
About the Author
Zach Maldonado serves as a pastor at Church Without Religion and with Andrew Farley Ministries. Zach is also an author and speaker with a passion to proclaim the gospel and to help people believe Jesus is enough. He holds a Master of Arts in Theology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary.
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