I'm Not a Good Christian
I’m not a good Christian. I’m really not. There are some days where I forget to read the Bible or pray. I don’t exclusively listen to Chris Tomlin or MercyMe. I’ve never read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity or John Piper’s Desiring God. I make excuses for not participating in church events. I’ve never been able to afford to go on an international mission trip. I covet what my neighbor has and am jealous of other people’s lives on social media. I get angry with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I stay silent when my co-workers scoff at moral people. Basically, I read Galatians 5:22-24 and do not see myself reflected in that passage. I know I’m not a good Christian, but what’s worse is that I take an unholy pleasure in knowing that no one else is, either.
So, I take a lot of personal reassurance from the story of Paul’s transformation in the book of Acts. In the eighth chapter, Paul (called Saul in the text) is villainous. He literally persecuted and murdered Christians. It does not get worse than condemning innocents. However, because God is a better judge than me and loves his people so much that he sent his son to save us, he gives Paul a second chance. The rest of Acts, and the New Testament really, go on to depict a man on fire for the Lord who was spreading the good news of the gospel all over the region. So, I feel particularly joyful that God didn’t leave him in that sin and that we, like Paul, are not finished being transformed.
Apart from Christ, none of us are “good” Christians. We can try and perform what we think the good Christian role is, but at the end of the day we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23. Paul was a highly educated Jew and believed with all his heart he was correct in pursuing and arresting Christians. Is it possible we’re also wrong in striving after some things that we think make us a good Christian, but really only show the sickness in our hearts?
The things I have listed above are all beautiful aspects of living a Christian life, but what I don’t believe is that any one of those things can save us alone; only Christ’s grace can. We complicate faith with rules and regulations, and I’m always reminded of the Pharisee’s when I see myself and others cling to the law of being a good Christian instead of Christ’s love.
Christ’s love is not earned by any of our own efforts. We can’t earn grace by listening to KLOVE or by tithing 50% of our income. Take a look at your life and evaluate what God is and isn’t calling you towards. And if you’re ever in doubt if something is of the Lord, run to his word to test it. “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good,” 1 Thessalonians 5:21.
Sometimes we think we know what God is calling us to do and other times, like Paul, what we’ve been running from is what God is calling us for. He qualifies the called, not always the qualified. I think we are all examples of this in some way. Our transformation may not always be as dramatic as being overcome by blinding light on the way to Damascus, but it is still no less miraculous when we repent of our sin and accept Christ as our savior. Only then are we ever “good.”