I’m sure you’ve seen them. At church, or maybe at school, or at work. They’re the good girls who have their lives together. They don’t step outside the lines, always say the right things and have their pastor’s wife on speed dial.
Or maybe it’s you. You live under the expectation of being the “good girl” from your parents or church leaders. And you fulfill it — because after all, it makes you feel nice.
Hate to break it to you, but being a “good Christian girl” is a complete misnomer.
Good…bad…and the middle.
Personally, I’ve always been on some weird middle ground. Not quite “bad” but certainly never accused of being “good.”
But I had plenty of “good” examples in my early adult life. People I grew up respecting and modeling. Can I just say finding those pockets where discipleship is common practice is amazing?! And for a few years, I was blessed to walk in that kind of community.
On the flip side, there came a time when my perspective on real faith was challenged. Over the span of a few months, every one of my spiritual mentors — people who had walked with Jesus 20, 30 or 50 years — made life choices that were completely against their faith. Life choices that destroyed marriages, removed them from ministry and/or shattered their faith.
That season shook me. Because somewhere I had believed, if they can make it in their faith, maybe I can too.
What took me a while to sort through was: everyone has an individual story. And most of the time, we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes.
Don’t confuse “Good” with “Real.”
Jesus cautioned about this a lot during His ministry. I see it every time I read anything about the Pharasees. Over and over Jesus challenged their holier-than-thou practices, knowing their hearts were focused on anything but a truly loving God. (Luke 11:37–54 and Matthew 23:1–39)
It’s a no-brainer: anyone can follow rules and appear “good” on the outside. But that doesn’t mean their faith is real. Not that it is our job to weed out the posers from authentic believers; only God can search the heart (Jeremiah 17:10). But don’t fall into the trap of comparing your faith to someone else’s. After all, your faith is your own — the only person responsible for keeping your faith real is yourself.
Here’s the crux of the matter: none of us are good.
For some of us, it’s a hard truth to swallow (perfectionist right here). Simply put, none of us are good Christian girls. It says so in Romans 3:23:
for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (ESV, emphasis added).
Let me hit Pause right there. Don’t let this scripture be a source of guilt in your faith. It is not written to keep us feeling shameful and pressed down. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the context for this scripture.
Better yet, let’s read the section how it was originally written, without titles or verse numbers:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (ESV)
Did you catch that? In a very loose paraphrase, we’re talking about God’s righteousness being available to every who believes in Jesus Christ. Because once you’re born again in Christ, we’re all on the same level — there is no social status, no first- or second-rate, we’re ALL THE SAME. And because of the gift of grace from Jesus’s death, we’re redeemed. Not because of anything we’ve done; no amount of Bible studies, leading Sunday school or bringing cookies for pre- or post-service hangout can change it. It’s purely because of God’s righteousness.
Whoa…I hope that sinks in deep. If it doesn’t, read it a few more times.
The moral of the story…
Whether we mean to or not, all of us have fallen into the mindset of having to be “good enough” for God to save us. We need to get over that idea. Because He doesn’t only save “good” people.
He saves the broken, the dirty, the outcasts, the despondent. None of us are good – even those who have been following Him all their lives. Not even the folks who act like they have it all together, who go to the right church, have the picturesque family or job or ministry…
Following Jesus doesn’t mean we magically reach some higher level of enlightenment where we’re don’t sin anymore. Instead, it means we stop trying to hide our sin – we admit we’re wrong, and rely on Him to help us walk humbly in the light and change our life patterns.
After all, every born-again believer is created in God’s image and covered by grace. That alone means we should treat each other with dignity.