How to Be a Good Christian

Originally published Friday, 15 January 2016.

If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. Matthew 16:24 (VOICE)

Do you ever feel like there is some secret list on what makes a good Christian? 

I sometimes wonder if it exists because I hear the phrase “That wasn’t very Christian” or “I’m not a good Christian a lot”. 

I even sometimes think, “I’m not a good Christian”.  

I don’t go to church

I don’t read my bible every day. 

My prayers are random little sentences thrown up to God at all hours not long, holy missives in the early hours of the morning. 

I don’t always tell my friends “Jesus is the answer” to every question

I lose my temper. 

And I’m impatient and unkind more than I care to admit. 

I lie. 

I’ve taken things that weren’t mine. 

And I sometimes wish I lived someone else’s life. 

That list isn’t even complete but it begins to paint a picture of the type of Christian I am.

In my head the secret list of what makes a good Christian goes something like this:


Never had alcohol

Have no idea what swear words are

Attends church 2-3 times per week

Never cut their hair

That last one snuck in there but it does show that my idea of the perfect Christian has been deeply influenced by stories of Mary, Samson, David and John the Baptist. 

Ironic, isn’t it? The Bible actually goes pretty far to show how none of those people were perfect. All of them would fail in one-way or another at the “good Christian” list.

And then there is Jesus. He said, “Come follow me”, to people who didn’t look anything like a “good Christians”. 

I’ve always loved that Jesus said, “Come follow me”. 

Jesus didn’t issue a command to act like him. Jesus gave an invitation to walk with him.  

I think Jesus knew that I wouldn’t become more like him simply from following a list of “do’s and don’ts.(tweet this)

I think Jesus knew, for people like Peter, Matthew, Luke and me, it would take more than that. It would take time for me to learn to trust him, and then time for me to like him, and then time for me to want to be inspired to live a better way.  

I wonder if when Jesus said, “Come follow me” he knew that the road they’d walk together wouldn’t always be a straight one. I’m sure there are plenty of times when Jesus and the disciples stood at a crossroads and argued about which way to go. Or when the disciples said, “Jesus, you’re out of your mind!”

I often forget just how human those that chose to follow Jesus were. They didn’t put down their fishing nets and suddenly become a “good Christian”. 

I think Jesus knew that following him wouldn’t be easy. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said to his disciples, “If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me.”

That doesn’t sound like a walk in the park, hand-in-hand into the sunset. And it certainly doesn’t sound like any list of what makes a good Christian I’ve ever read. 

If you ask me, between those two “follow me’s” is a lot of space for stumbling, for questioning, for turning around and saying, “Sorry, Jesus, this is too tough I’m going home.” But I think Jesus wanted us to know that being uncertain, messing up, and making mistakes is part of following him. 

This gives me so much hope because if I have to be a good Christian to follow Jesus than I won’t make the cut. 

But most of Jesus’ followers wouldn’t either. 

I think Jesus’ requirements of what makes a good Christian sound more like this:

Come follow me, and try your best to keep in step beside me, but when you fall I’ll be the first to offer you a hand up. 

When I read that I think, “I could be a good Christian.”

Ponder: What do you think it means to be a good Christian? 

Prayer: Jesus, I want to follow you. I know I’ll stumble sometimes but I also know that you’ll be there to give me a hand-up when I need it. Thank you that you never make me feel like I’m not good enough to follow you. Amen.

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