Christianity / God's Kingdom / Grace of God

What Really is a “Good” Christian? Part 1

What Really is a “Good” Christian? Part 1

Ever wonder what makes someone a “good” Christian?  I do.  Hardly a week goes by where I don’t have someone tell me some other person is or isn’t a “good” Christian.

When it happens I always just tend to nod and smile.  Experience has shown me that all to many times the “good” Christian turns out to be anything but…and then the “non” or “not good” Christian ends up being someone I want to get to know better.

Probably one of the verses in the Bible that tend to unsettle Christians is a little section in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus says,

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matt 7:21

It appears to me that there are some “good” Christians who have done many things for Jesus, no doubt starting with ‘accepting him as their personal Lord and Savior’, who get a rude wake up call when they finally meet their master.

Lets face it, most, if not all,  Christians assume they are not the ones Jesus would be speaking to in this passage.

Of course, the people Jesus was referring to in this passage would never have thought it was them Jesus was addressing…until the moment he says, “Depart from me”

Apparently Jesus seems to think that people can do mighty works in his name…and still be “practicing lawlessness”

It does fill in the blank on why so many “Christians” can go to church, pray for the sick, teach a Bible study all while having an affect of tearing down relationships, gossiping, pursuing money, despising their brothers and sisters etc.    Those that have the good news of Jesus and have received his grace with a grateful heart should naturally be having Life flowing out of them to others around.

So why do so many have muddy waters flowing out of them instead?

I think some of the answer is found later on in Matthew 21:28-31 when Jesus explains:

 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Which one is the “good” Christian?  The one who says “Yes” but does not or the one who says “no” and does?  Jesus affirms it is the one who is actually “doing” what his father wishes despite what he says.

And then Jesus goes on to say that the tax collectors and prostitutes are understanding the ways of God and are entering the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of you.  Now back in that day for the religious folk a tax collector and a prostitute was about as low as you could go.  For us, in an age of of the IRS and Julia Roberts playing a prostitute in Pretty Woman, those images might not resonate with the same impact as that first century audience.

So picture Jesus saying to a group of Western evangelicals, “Truly I tell you, the homosexuals and the people having abortions are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you

No wonder Jesus was crucified!

To be Continued!



  • I often wonder about these things. It makes for an interesting intellectual exercise. But then I remember that scripture says “Who are you to judge another man’s servant? It is before his own master that a servant stands or falls. And he will stand, for God makes him to stand.”
    I noticed that Jesus was contrasting not good and good Christians in one passage. And He was contrasting orthodox religionists with those ‘beyond the pale’ in the other. I agree with you that it is two ways of saying the same thing.
    It seems He was always making these extreme contrasts. But then again, Grace and Law are extreme opposites.
    Once again, you’ve given me something to think about.

  • Steve

    Thanks Nelson, like you, these are areas I ponder wondering ultimately, “What is REALLY important to Jesus.” As opposed to what is important to us. And yes, ultimately it will be the master who judges…

    • As a father, I know what is really important to me concerning my children. #1 their affection for me. #2 their personal happiness. #3 their behavior.
      As for other people’s kids, I wish them the best, but they are not my kids.
      And the rest of God’s kids are not my kids, God bless ’em.

  • I think the continuance of that scripture is interesting… “to his own master he stands or falls…. and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

  • Gail Robertson (Bebee)

    Very thought provoking! Thanks Steve

    • Steve

      Thanks for the comment Gail!

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