I’m going to be really forward with you. I feel like today’s a day for honesty and here’s the honest truth: I’m a better Christian than you. You want to know how I know? Because most of the time I get to define what a Christian looks like. I get to describe what one looks like, what one does, what one reads and the best part is, my description often ends up looking like me. Yes, I play a mean game of “Define-a-Christian” (sort of like Apples to Apples except I both submit and pick which cards fit).
Much of the time, when I’m thinking about my relationship with God, I seek to measure up to my Christian standards. What I don’t often realize is that those standards are standards that I have created. Yes, I can proof-text them with Scriptures if I want, but that rarely means I’m exploring what the Bible actually demands of me. When I play “Define-A-Christian”, I get to decide what’s comfortable, what goes too far, and what I shouldn’t have to do. More often than not, that means I have to love my family, read Scripture every now and then, and try to pray. But certainly a Christian doesn’t have to love their enemies and give control of their lives to Christ, right?
The awesome – in the truest sense of the word – thing about my game is that it works. I rarely have to step outside my comfort zone to be a good Christian. Sometimes some sin even makes it into part of “being a Christian.” For me, “Define-a-Christian” works really well; at least, it works really well until I really start to read the gospels. It works really well until I remember that Christianity is about being like Christ. And then it all starts to crumble. Because rather than being like Christ, I’ve been striving towards my own definition of a Christian. Christ doesn’t call me to the comfortable. He calls me to the dangerous, to step out and live a life of faith and utter reliance. Perhaps even more significantly, Christ doesn’t call me to a life where I get to define what is “good enough”; he calls me to perfection (Matthew 5:48).
Yet even as I type this I find myself wanting to retreat, to be more like a “Christian” than like Jesus. The game I play is just so much easier. And that’s why I need grace. It’s why I need the gospel preached daily to myself – a reminder that not only am I a Christ-follower, but I’m a child of the Father, called away from childish games (1 Corinthians 13:11), and into resurrection-tinted life with the Spirit.
May God help us be less like who we want to be and more like who He is.