What is a “good Christian” anyway?
- 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NASB95)
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?
Could it be a bad thing?
Could trying to be a “good Christian” be misguided, ladder against the wrong wall type of thing?
Short answer – Yes!
Usually when we have such a thought in mind, we have already decided what it means to be a good Christian. We are no longer listening to God through the teaching of his word, no longer in pursuit of his glory on the path of Jesus. Or maybe never were.
An example … “good board members” but weak Christian men …
Several years ago in a church in which I was the pastor, a man came on our church board, newly elected and excited to serve. At his first board meeting he expressed his appreciation for being able to take part in the leadership of the church and made a statement something like this: “I just want to be the best board member that I can.”
Probably everyone sitting there thought that was a good thing, except me. You see, our “board members” were good board members, were pretty good “church members,” pretty much good people. But they were immature Christians and they were weak spiritually, weak as men, weak as spiritual leaders, lacking in spiritual courage and insight.
His sights were set on human example instead of Scriptural instruction. He had his ladder against the wrong wall, this “wall” being one built on the acceptance, opinions and experience of the other men in that group.
Let’s look at a prototype for putting your ladder against the wrong wall, or in this case choosing the wrong gate for your life direction and “Christian” service.
- Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV)
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” 23 And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
Verses 21 and 22 could be summarized as: “But we were good Christians. We called you Lord, we prophesied in your name, we opposed demons in your name and did mighty works in your name!”
Don’t miss the emphasis in these verses. They had been very intent and purposeful about being “good Christians.” They wanted to go to heaven.
But they had a problem … they missed the gate.
- Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV)
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Unwilling to relinquish control of their lives to God, they went with the majority. And how could they go wrong? Choosing the wide gate gave them an easier way with more options. Here they could even define their terms as to what it meant to follow God, aka “be a good Christian.”
Make no mistake. Hear what God says in his Bible. God does allow us to define the terms, but we then must live (or die) with the end results. They were convinced right up until the end that they were “good Christians” on their way to heaven. But here is how the exchange went as it was removed from the court of popular opinion to the throne room of God.
They said: “But we were such good Christians.”
Jesus said: “I never knew you. Go away.”
We really do need to ask – Who is defining the terms?
Do you realize that a person – and there are thousands in our churches around the country, especially liberal churches – can be a “good Christian” and not even know Christ? But don’t consider this a “liberal only” problem. It is not a denominational problem or an institutional problem. It is a “me” problem, a “you” problem. Where am I before God?
A Christian who has settled for less …
We are sometimes pretty good at measuring and comparing ourselves to ourselves. We have begun to listen more to each other than to listen to God.
- 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NASB95)
For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.
We lose our understanding on the horizontal plane of human opinion …
Sometimes we begin by allowing God to define the terms, but then become “wise in our own eyes” and settle for human opinion. We are Christians, we began the quest in a biblical manner, but we have taken our eyes off Jesus Christ. We didn’t lose our salvation; we just stepped off the path of bringing pleasure to God.
And we have settled for less – our version of God’s ideal.
- Proverbs 3:5–7 (NLT)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. 7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
Trust in our own terms – Get what we choose!
Trust God – Get what God chooses for us!