Posted by: jadanzzy | November 13, 2007

Heartbroken and Upset

I wanted to share this…

On my way back from lunch to my office, I heard one of three Asian-American law students ask the ever-painful contemporary question, “How can you be a good Christian but not a good person? I don’t understand that.”  She said it with frustration and disgust.

I wanted to cry. I was furious. Not at her, but for her. What have we done with the beautiful words and actions of Jesus Christ?



  1. God is good, and to say that a christian is good is that s/he is trying to be more like Christ, who is also God and so is good. Not to say a prerequisite for being a christian is being good, but being someone changed by Christ and is following in his way should at least try to be more like Christ. whether that looks like being a “good person” as she puts it is up for debate. but when i think “good person” i think, God is good, so she must mean a Godly person. or so i’d hope.

    i think its easy to misunderstand the idea of being a good christian and being a good person. after being saved, the first step in being like Christ is confusing and human, in my opinion, and the more we walk the easier it is to “do” something to the beautiful words and actions of christ, as you put it. i don’t feel furious at the scene you describe. i just wonder if she knows what she’s saying.

  2. What’s it look like to be a good Christian? Or a bad Christian?

    What’s it look like to be a good person? Or a bad person?

  3. For me, the issue isn’t defining what a Christian should be or what good looks like.

    It’s the emotion tied to her statement. I don’t advocate a push-over Christianity. But our faith should not deter others from experiencing a general positivity when dealing with Christians. Being a Christian comes with joy, peace, and love.

  4. if I follow your train of thought, I end up with… ‘I should never evangelize to a jerk because then, the jerk will be a bad representation of Christianity’

    (insert murderer, rapist, thief, prostitute for jerk).

    It’s either that, or they better change once they become a better christian (as in instantaneous change)…. and again… unrealistic expectations.
    repentant? I would hope so. but that whole ‘already not yet’ thing makes the whole transformation process a little slow…

  5. a person CAN be a “good Christian” but be a “bad person”. sin is the problem.

    but i think that the world should be able to tell when a sanctifying work is happening. even if it’s a work in progress or not yet complete, and Christians falter and do “bad” things, i think that a person informed to the condition of a Christian would probably not make a statement with that type of contempt/frustration.

    isn’t that ultimately it? Christians ARE works in progress, sanctification is a road and not an instant. but transformation IS visible, even if incomplete, and a dichotomy of religious piety and genuine life change is the hypocrisy that Christ preached against so much.

    a non-Christian may unfairly judge a Christian, but there is also space for a lot of FAIR judgment. and in that fair judgment, they should see transformation, incomplete though it might be. someone who doesn’t see it… well, the word says that good trees bear good fruit, we reap what we sow, and that a city on a hill cannot be hidden.

    the works themselves don’t hold righteousness, but they are a REFLECTION of what’s happening on the inside. perceptions can certainly vary and be incomplete, but in general, a perception of transformation wouldn’t lead someone to make a statement like that.

  6. amen ana. stinkin so much more eloquent than I am =:P

  7. Jadanzzy, I understand your point about reflecting poorly on Christ. I love the Five Iron Frenzy line (from countless sermons, certainly) “the only Jesus this world’s going to see is the Jesus in you and me”.

    However, I do think that some people will say what you heard and actually mean, “How can somebody claim to follow Christ and also be someone I don’t like?”

    I guess I asked my original question because I have no idea what a good person is or what a good Christian is. Yes, we want everyone to accurately represent Christ, but who gets to decide which representation is most accurate?

  8. Hey, which FiF song is that?

  9. Jadanzzy — Great discussion! It reminds me of a quote I heard once (perhaps CS Lewis?) about how much worse a “bad” Christian might be without Christ and, conversely, how much better a “good” non-Christian might be with Christ at the center. I agree with the observation that it is important not to look at only one point in time, but at the general movement of one’s life.

    At the same time, though, I totally hear where you’re coming from. It saddens me to see people who claim allegiance to Christ gossip, slander, accuse, insult, demean, humiliate and/or otherwise attack others — and, often, “in the name” of Christ.

    For example, I was watching a show on Nova yesterday about the Dover school district’s court battle over introducing intelligent design into the science curriculum, and there was a short video clip of Pat Robertson saying, “Well, if there’s a disaster in your town don’t turn to God because you’ve rejected Him.” Seriously, come on.

    One last random thought: it’s strange how most people tend to remember the negative examples of Christians over the positive ones. Maybe it’s because the negatives are such total stinkers. But, even when we want to embody Christ to others, it is an uphill deal all the way.

  10. worinld — it’s “Amalgamate” off of Upbeats and Beatdowns.

    I wonder if there is a difference between a Christian who happens to be human and does human things, and a Christian who deliberately associates Christ with things he wouldn’t have been associated with (like the Pat Robertson example).

  11. Hey Dan,

    I was just working on my own blog and noticed I never responded to your comment on my link to the Tim Keller article. I’m with you on the Reformed attitude toward the emerging church. So a belated Amen to that.


  12. I call myself a Christian, but even then, it strikes me that really, seriously…

    We are all unholy people following a Holy God.

    I think, the simplest and most accurate answer would be this:

    Christians are not good people. We are all bastards. But God has mercy on us and loves us still.

    The gap between holy & unholy may decrease as we grow in our following of Christ, but that is almost immaterial to the question…

  13. Wow, this reminds me of the other day. My boy friend and I were at a town square when a man hands me a card. On the front, it read: “Are you a good person?” The man try to hand my bf one too, but my bf said, “I’m good.” As in…I am fine, no thanks. The man misunderstood him, and asked, “Are you really good?” By then my bf read the card and saw the irony in it. He reassured the man that he was good, and the evangelist asked, “Do you lie?” And when my bf honestly said yes, the guy says, “You’re not a good person.”

    It made me so ashamed to be called a Christian. It was heart breaking! I think this is why a lot of people believe that Christians are by far the biggest hypocrites, therefore, are not good. I think its our actions that make people think this way. I do not know if you can understand what I mean. But I honestly believe that most people, believers and non-believers, do not know what a Christian is. If we did, then people like that evangelist and professor would not have said and did what they had done. Does that make sense? I hope it does…

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