What Really is a “Good” Christian? Part 2
In my last post I began a discussion on what really is a “good” Christian? We left off with Jesus talking about the parable of the vineyard owner in Matthew 21 implying that what a son “did” was more important than what he “said”. (One son said he’d do what his father asked and then didn’t while the other one said “no” initially but then went and did what was asked anyway)
What is interesting is that everyone answered Jesus correctly when he asked which son did what his father wanted. The Bible gives no indication that a couple people chimed in a dissenting view that it was what the son said that was most important.
And yet its also interesting that evangelical Christians in particular seem the most focused on how someone lines up with a particular belief system, creed, or statement of faith. What someone does after that affirmation of belief is of secondary importance to what they initially say.
So think of a modern church audience in and amidst the crowd as Jesus tells this parable. The first century Jews are on board with Jesus and immediately identify the son who ultimately did what his father asked as being the correct choice but then evangelicals quickly jump in, “Wait a second Lord, how can a son even be doing the Father’s business in the first place without the proper affirmation from the onset.”
The evangelical church for many years now has unconsciously focused on elevating the second son, the one who said he would do what his father asked but didn’t as the example to strive for. In fact, for the most part, we’ve actually turned the “Father’s business” into the the very act of saying “yes” in the first place. By saying “yes” to his father, the first son was already doing what his father required and the second son, by saying “no” was rejecting the father.
Except no one in Jesus’ first century audience, including Jesus himself, would have accepted this understanding of the parable.
By focusing on the wrong son, the church has by and large, missed huge opportunities of being about the Father’s true business. Hence we define “good” Christian as someone who affirms certain creeds and Statements of Faith rather than someone who has “living water” flowing out of them for others to receive.
Even the term “good” Christian is a bit of a misnomer and leads to some of the confusion going on right now. Most people would tend to think of “good” and “evil” as opposites.
They are not!
“Good & Evil” are instead opposites of “Life” they are not opposites of each other. Remember it is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil that led to humanity’s curse; it is the Tree of Life, that we initially lost and now have access again to through Jesus Christ, that is our restoration. (For more on the topic of the two trees see my post here)
This understanding helps us not to fall into a ” good works” based faith. The Grace of God is about what Jesus did…not what we do. We may be deceived into believing doing a lot of “good” things are making us into the son who did what his father asked.
Jesus said there are a couple ways of identifying who are his disciples, or for the clumsy vernacular of this post, who are the “good Christians”.
- the bearing of fruit: (John 15:8) When we ourselves are eating from the Tree of Life we will produce fruit after that kind. Life giving fruit that can be given to others for strength and nourishment. When we see people displaying this we can guess they are about the Father’s business.
- the love a person has for people in general: (John 13:35) Jesus said himself if you want to know who is “with me” look at the way they treat people in general. Do they love others?
There are just certain people that seem to give off “life”. It goes far beyond “good” and “bad”. Jesus promised the Samaritan woman “Living Water” that quenches all thirst.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a”good Christian” was known as somewhere to go to receive “Life, and Life overflowing?” Jesus said he came to give us this Life (John 10:10)
Shouldn’t “good” Christians aim to do the same?
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