Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The twitters just suggested that I follow "Cindy" whose 'about me' tagline starts out by saying how she's just trying to be a good Christian. I don't know how the sentence ended because I did not finish reading it, which I suppose is a little unfair to Cindy. However, it was the phrase "good Christian" that caught my attention.

I have no idea what Cindy means by this phrase. What, exactly, is a good Christian? A person who follows the Bible to a t, whose crimes are petty, like poking a badger with a spoon. Original, but hardly very terrible. Though I suppose that you aren't going to get very far by actually being good. The reality is that Cindy is as broken as the rest of us in her own way.

I think "good Christian" is a facade, a dated term my grandfather uses to mean a good Bible reading relatively unstained boy or girl looking for a spouse. Perhaps Cindy understands the term in a more humble way-flawed and sinful but trying and trusting in grace. I can wrap my head around that. To me, it seems that to be a good Christian means that you sort of are a bad Christian, falling short, not always doing what you want, rather doing the things you don't want. Kind of like Nick Lowe's song, Failed Chrisitan.

Personally, I'm hard pressed to even use the label "Christian". It has been so marketed, mass produced and surface that I don't at all connect with it. I believe in God, his existence, Jesus and his earthly task and I try to make the things that are important to him important to me. I usually never come close to the mark. Upon occasion I have some shining moments. I don't read the Bible nor do I feel bad about that. I rarely even go to church. By my grandfather's understanding, I'm not a good Christian girl. I'm pretty ok with that. Because I think, in the end, my grandfather, Cindy and I are all saying the same thing, it just looks different. And different need not be divisive which is a whole other post for a whole other time.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I think your post raises some good questions about what makes a christian, and whether the intent to 'be good' is part of it. If grace is actually unmerited favor, which is a central tenet of orthodox christian belief, then is it sin to attempt to earn it? Is that just another human power-grab? Say I'm always working hard to be good; I can use my good deeds as evidence of my awesomeness. Likely, I will also downplay my good deeds, thus demonstrating my humility, which also makes me awesome. The logical extension here is that we create idols of ourselves, using christianity as a patina. In the end, the god we worship is ourselves and the values we ascribe to are the ones that place ourselves at the center of all things.

Conversely, I could see the hypocrisy in the 'faking good' model, and choose to do whatever the hell I want knowing that I'm covered by grace. This is a blatant abuse of the grace offered us, and again focuses all of our attention and energies on our own desires and whims. Why not, God's grace covers all my failings past, present, and future. I can live in complete freedom.

Here's the essential flaw in both arguments: we makes little gods of ourselves. This is the great sin condition. It is inevitable that we will do this. I think grace allows us to not be as concerned about ourselves, so that we can be of service to others. Grace allows the needs of others to be on the same shelf as our own, or possibly even higher. When grace is active, we don't care as much about being a good christian because we're not out to favor, status, forgiveness, position, or power. Also, when grace is active, we're genuinely thankful and make effort to stomp all over that love with our freedom. So, being a good christian misses the point. Being free to do whatever we want also misses the point. I might be missing the point too... that's entirely possible.