Are Christians Better than Other People?

One common complaint raised against Christians is that “you think you are better than everyone else.” The typical response, often offered preemptively before this objection is even raised, is that “I do not think I am better than anyone else just because I am a Christian. I am just as bad as you are. The only difference is that God looks on Christ’s righteousness instead of my sins.”

So is it true? Do Christians really think they are better than other people? And should they? Are they actually better than other people?

That depends on what you mean by “better.”

Does a Christian have more intrinsic worth in God’s eyes than a non-Christian does? The Biblical answer is “no.” We derive an objective value from being a soul created in God’s image, whether Christian or not (Genesis 1:26, Genesis 9:6, Acts 17:28).

Does God love a Christian more than a non-Christian? If love means wanting what is best for a person, and acting in their best interest, then once again, the Biblical answer is a resounding “no.” Contrary to the conclusions of some Calvinist theologians, God is “patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).”  He illustrates this love by the story of a father who runs out to welcome home his rebellious son (Luke 15:11-31). After all, Jesus died for sinners (Romans 5:8), not people who were already holier-than-thou. (Mark 2:17)

Does a Christian deserve God’s grace more than a non-Christian does? If the key word is deserve, then the answer is “no,” yet again. A Christian is not someone who has earned their salvation. It is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8, Romans 6:23). This fact led Paul to conclude, “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all” (Romans 3:9). When it comes to deserving our salvation, we are not better than anyone else.

But there is a real sense in which Christians are better than other people. Or at least, we sure ought to be.

A chief aspect of God’s work in the life of a Christian is to conform him to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). There is no reasonable way to understand the concept of “being conformed to the image of Christ,” through a process of “transformation by the renewing of our minds” (Romans 12:1) that does not include becoming a better person.

Ephesians 4:22-24 states it plainly: “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

If you have not become a better person since becoming a Christian, something is seriously wrong.

In conclusion: Do Christians have more intrinsic worth than others? No. Does God love Christians more than others? When love is understood as an unconditional, active desire for the wellbeing of another, clearly not.   Do Christian’s deserve to be saved more than others? No.

But do Christians behave better than others? The answer had better be “yes.” We ought to be a people unusually full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. We ought to be a people unusually forgiving, unusually meek, unusually pure and upright and gracious and harmonious. Shame on us when we are not.

May we be growing in holiness in a way unlike anything that we experienced before our conversion. May we look more like our God every day. In that sense, may we be better than we were prior to our conversion.

Advertisements

Why The World Needs Christians

Many who live without the gospel pride themselves on leading the way towards a progressive, blissful, godless future. But is dispensing with all things Biblical really in our best interest?

The world needs people who have been profoundly impacted by the gospel.

These people embody the kind of unconditional love that only the cross makes logical. It is the kind of love that brings peace and prosperity at every scale from the individual to the international.

They have personally experienced a power strong enough to free the believer from addictions and damaging lifestyles. It is a power that realigns us, rescuing us each from our own unsustainable trajectories.

They give family the importance it will need if our society is to flourish. They champion God’s beautiful model of mothers and fathers lovingly investing in their children.

In a society that is increasingly individualistic, they maintain a sense of community that is vitally important to the human experience. They care enough to put down their electronic devices and invest in each other’s lives.

They are awake to the destructiveness of pornography. While marital sexuality falls to pieces in a world that has made even sexuality a selfish endeavor, they stand not simply against what is immoral, but also for what is most beautiful and fulfilling.

They value human life not simply for its utilitarian value, but for it intrinsic worth. In a world where abortion is a matter of convenience, they state clearly that each and every human life matters because it possesses an inherent worth, not simply because it meets the selfish needs of others.

There is so much to be done to improve our world as we march collectively into the future. There are so many social ills and so much unnecessary suffering for us to seek to eradicate. As Christians, we ought to be the ones leading the way.

Planet Earth from Space