a lot of people think that being called a “good christian” is the best compliment they could receive. i happen to think the opposite.

first of all, what does that term even mean? it sounds like a whole lot of religion to me. i mean, sure, it’s awesome when others notice that you spent your spring break serving others in a third world country. it’s great when others notice that you don’t cuss, party, or do anything that “normal” teenagers do. but if we begin thinking that being complimented on all of the things we do right is the best compliment we could receive, we’re missing the whole point.

being called a “good christian” shouldn’t make us feel good about ourselves. being called a “good christian” should wake us up. for me, it’s a serious heart-check. God doesn’t ask us to follow a bunch of rules, He asks us to be more like Him.

now, don’t get me wrong. going on mission trips, not drinking, not cussing; they’re all great things. but they mean absolutely nothing if your (+ mine!) heart isn’t in the right place. i read a great quote from Timothy Keller the other day that i believe captures exactly what i’m getting at:

“religion: i obey therefore i am accepted. Gospel: i’m accepted therefore i obey.”

yes, absolutely we should be trying our best to not sin! but where is our motivation coming from? from the opinions of others or from our complete love and fear of our God?

i want to become more like Christ every day, not to just look like it. that’s why being called a “good Christian” is almost offensive to me. you know what’s a million times more encouraging?

“gabbi, Christ shines through you.”

“gabbi, you are a light to your school for Jesus!”

“gabbi, i love your passion for people.”

“gabbi, you live with true conviction.”

 “gabbi, i love watching you grow to become more like Christ.”

not “gabbi, i love watching you follow all of the rules in the Bible.”

not “gabbi, you’re the best person i know.”

not “gabbi, you’re always doing the right thing.”

not “gabbi, you’re such a good Christian.”

i mess up daily. we all do. in fact, there’s really no such thing as being a “good christian”. all i can do is love God and love people; just like Jesus did. + the best part is, that’s exactly what He calls me to.

“to be mature is to be basic. Christ! no more, no less. that’s what i’m working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gave me.” // col. 1:29 {MSG}