Most of us think we know what a “good Christian” looks like and our goal is often to live up to those standards. These characteristics often include things like reading the Bible daily, active prayer, positive, optimistic, not afraid to share the Gospel just to name a few. The truth is, Jesus is the full expression of God’s nature so being a good Christian has more to do with reflecting Christ than our own opinions of ourselves. As Christians, we are called to be disciples of Jesus, so a good Christian would likely be a committed disciple of Christ.
By definition, a disciple is a follower, one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in our hearts, to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more Christ-like. Discipleship is not knowing more information about Jesus, but knowing Jesus and being transformed into His image through the constant exposure of the Gospel of grace. Discipleship calls us to live by faith in Him in the everydayness of life by the Holy Spirit’s power. Jesus made disciples by spending time observing potential disciples. Before calling potential disciples into development, He interacted with them in a variety of settings and situations.
When we talk about being a good Christian, we have to also talk about our behavior and actions. When someone says Christian behavior, they are talking about the behavior of those who have accepted, by faith, Jesus Christ as their Savior and thus are indwelt with His Holy Spirit. We all know the Golden Rule: do unto other as you would have them to do unto you, or in other words, treat others the way you would like to be treated. A good Christian lives a life that reflects the Golden Rule.
Jesus Himself says that this simple rule captures all of the Law of the Prophets. Interestingly enough, He follows up the Golden Rule by reminding us that it is a path that few take; but it does lead to life. Jesus followers also practice the kindness virtue, where they give people the same respect we’d like given to us. Matthew 7:12-13 says, “So whatever you wish that other would do to you, do also to them for this is the Law of the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” We exhibit love and kindness through generous acts of service. People who practice this are not only compassionate and considerate, but have the ability to see the best in others.
One important quality of a Christian is that they believe God’s Word. A follower of Jesus abides in His Word daily. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). The word “abide” is simply the word “remain.” This doesn’t mean that you can’t lay your Bible down and go to work. No. Abiding in the word of Jesus meaning remaining in that force field of the Word. It means not leaving it. Abide means not ceasing to be persuaded by its truth, and never elevating any other truth above it. Abide means not ceasing to rest in its grace and power – never turning away as though greater peace could be found anywhere else. And abide means never ceasing to eat and drink from the Word as the bread of heaven and living water, as if life could be sustained anywhere else.
A good Christian places their full trust in Christ. Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours” (Matthew 11:24). As Christians, we know that prayer is a key part of our relationship with God but it isn’t always a part of our regular practice. Many Christians struggle with making adequate time for God, through prayer and communication. We live in a fast-paced world and while many Christians say Jesus is most important their life, many struggle with fitting God into their daily agendas. But a someone following Jesus always has time for God because their lives center on Him. They trust on Jesus fully. Too often, our lives don’t always reflect that God is at our center. What’s special about a solid relationship with God is that when we face struggle, we know where our help comes from.
A good Christian also depends on Jesus. The promise of good to come helps us endure what may be a not-so-good present. The Bible tells us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knock it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-11). The more mature in faith we are, the bigger God will be for us. As our vision of God becomes clearer and we understand His enormity, we learn to rest in Him. We grow in our ability to depend completely on Him and know that with a God as competent as the God we find in the pages of Scripture, the universe in which we find ourselves is truly a safe place for us.
Jesus calls us to go and be disciples and to also share our lives more fully with others. truly identify ourselves as disciples of Christ, we can better spread Jesus’ teachings to all the nations of the world. The Bible reminds us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We are all sinners who are in need of God’s saving grace daily; however, when our actions glorify our Father in Heaven, we know we are on the right track.