Gospel of Grace, Jesus

Are you a good Christian? Why you might need to rethink that term

5 min read

Ever heard of this term ‘good Christian’? A term used to define good, intelligent and morally upright people. Sometimes used to mock Christians or even identity one Christian from another Christian—especially when non-Christians encounter Christians of dodgy character.

It’s a term pervasively used that some believe it originated from the Christian scriptures. It’s one of those words like ‘Trinity’ used to explain the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is no such word in the Bible, however, we use the word to describe a relationship in words that fit the human experience. The same with the term good Christian. 

If you read this post and are a Christian, I bet you think you are a good Christian—someone who is morally upright, good, honest, you faithfully obey the teachings of Jesus, you go to Church regularly, you tithe, you pay your taxes; you are faithful to your wife and kids; you obey the laws of your country; you are generous to the poor, the widow, orphan and immigrant, you pay your employees above the minimum wage; you read your Bible and pray every day, pray every day, pray every day (remember that Sunday school song?), you are good to your difficult mother-in-law and in-laws; you attend night vigils; you fast often; you watch clean movies, you exercise, you are loyal, reliable, you meditate, you are a well-adjusted person, etc. You are a good Christian, and your family and friends can attest to this. 

The issue here is this—there are Atheists, Agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Taoists, Animists, Shintoists, etc who are good people. They could easily fit the description of a good Christian. 

Many of my family members, in-laws and friends are good people. My wife, Jenny, is a prime example. She is a good person and comes from a great family. Jenny, as I always mock her is perfecto (think Italian). She puts me to shame. She is like the sun. When I see her, her brightness causes me to shield my eyes. Like Peter, I cry out, “depart from me for I’m such a sinful man”. That is perfecto right there (mockery). She says the same thing about me. Whenever one of us wants to win an argument, we pull out the perfecto card to great effect. 

The Christian gospel, however, disputes that this creature even exists. 

Let’s dissect this term good Christian.

A snapshot of the definition of good is this—morally right; righteousness, having the required qualities; of a high standard, possessing or displaying moral virtue, thorough, valid, etc.

Christian is defined as relating to or professing Christianity or its teachings. Used to identify a person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Christianity. In the Christian scriptures, it was used to identify the early followers of Jesus Christ. (Acts 11:26 (NLT). 

If we put the two words together (good and Christian), it reads like this—a morally right; righteous, having the required qualities; of a high standard, possessing or displaying moral virtue, thorough, and valid follower of Christ. 

The Christian gospel raises its hand in a seminar where this is being taught and objects to this description of who a Christian is.

The Christian gospel has this exclusive, unique idea called grace. Grace is unconditional love given to people who don’t deserve it—grace is given to people who are immoral, sinful, low standard, wicked, evil, bad, and have no moral virtue. It is the opposite description of good that attracts grace. 

If this is true to the Christian gospel, it reasons that morally right; righteous, having the required qualities; of a high standard, possessing or displaying moral virtue, thorough, valid people cannot be Christians. Morally upright people are good people but are not Christians, therefore, grace is exclusive to sinners—bad people.

Being a good Christian is an oxymoron—a contradiction of sorts. It’s equivalent to saying a sober drunk, a faithful adulterer, a straight walking cripple, etc. Notice the oxymoron? A sober drunk? You are sober or drunk. You are faithful or an adulterer. You are a cripple or walk straight. You cannot be both at the same time. In the same vein, you cannot be a good Christian. You are a good person or a Christian. A good Christian is an enlightenment era, modern and postmodern invention. It is what modern intelligent people call themselves. 

This creature called a good Christian doesn’t exist within the annals of the Bible. The Bible is full of weirdos, immoral, sinful, low standard, wicked, evil, bad, and no moral virtue people. The only difference between these weirdos, immoral, sinful, low standard, wicked, evil, bad, and no moral virtue people, and other weirdos, immoral, sinful, low standard, wicked, evil, bad, and no moral virtue people is this—they leaned hard on or  trusted in God’s grace. The weirdos, immoral, sinful, low standard, wicked, evil, bad, and no moral virtue people in the Old Testament relied on animal sacrifices to make them right (Christian). The first century, enlightenment era, modern and postmodern weirdos, immoral, sinful, low standard, wicked, evil, bad, and no moral virtue rely on Jesus’ one sacrifice for all time to make us right with God (Christian).

Now let’s throw a spanner in the works. The Christian gospel has such transformative power it turns sinners to saints, good people to Christians. C’mon Schulter, you are contradicting yourself. No, I’m not. The Christian gospel of grace transforms whoever believes it, however, its initial attraction is to sinners. This is the initial mission or goal of the Christian gospel. 

When someone praises you for being one of those ‘good Christians’, if possible, tell them that creature doesn’t exist and watch their jaws fall to the floor. It will puzzle them because in their minds they think they’ve given you a compliment (tongue in cheek). You should humbly inform them you are not a good Christian. You are just a Christian.  Most likely this will open up new avenues of conversation. Probably it might lead to an enquiry of the Christian gospel and an opportunity to witness.

The only good Christian who ever existed was Jesus Christ. He was good and Christian. This is bad news for us sinners (bad people). It really is. This means we all have fallen short of the glory (moral virtue) of God. It is only good news, and very good news when we know God has imputed good to us because of who Jesus is and what he did for us. Christians are people who despite and because of their sin (bad), God counts them good because they have accepted what Jesus has done for them.

Are you a good Christian? Rethink that idea.

That’s what grace looks like. 

 

Photo by Daniel Salcius on Unsplash

This entry was posted in: Gospel of Grace, Jesus

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Schulter Etyang leads The Life Place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Schulter is one whom Jesus loves. He loves his wife, Jenny, and enjoys reading, travelling, cooking, running and playing squash. He also enjoys conversations with friends about Jesus and about life.