Helping Students See The Difference In Being "Good" and Being Christ-like
"What does it mean to be a Christian?"
While the responses will definitely differ from group to group, I'm willing to bet that in every instance, there is something mentioned about behavior. Something like:
"Being a Christian means doing ____________________."
Or . . .
"Being a Christian means not doing ___________________."
Our behavior definitely plays a role in what it means to be a Christ-follower. You can't read Scripture and miss the call to a Kingdom-minded morality. God's Word is clear: there's an expectation on Christ-followers to act in a godly manner.
But, is living a good life unique to Christianity?
Does God have a corner market on calling people to live good lives? Of course not. The call to live good lives is found in numerous world religions, great and small. The call to be good and moral people is certainly found in secular culture. (And let's just admit it here: there are a great many secular people who live morally superior lives to some professed Christians.) So, is living an upright life truly unique to Christianity? No. But living a Christ-like life is.
Which begs the question:
Are your teenagers seeking to be "good people"? Or are they seeking to be "Christ-like"? There's a pretty big difference in the two . . .
See, the Bible doesn't call us to merely be "good people." Scripture calls us to much more than that. We're called to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). And being holy is all about being set-apart from the world (Col. 3). It's about being different. About being "other." This "otherness" is maybe best defined as the imitation of Christ (Eph. 5:1). The purpose for being holy is about glorifying God, but also about leading people to God (Matt. 5:16). This is the call God has placed on your life and your students' lives. And it is radically different than simply being good.
The cool thing is that we're not called to be Christ-like and then left to fend for ourselves. We have Scripture as a guide. And we have the empowerment of the Spirit to lead us. When you look at it this way, to see the our Christian lives as merely the effort to live as good people is a massive exercise in missing-the-point. We have the call, the example, and the power to boldly embrace Christ-likeness as an essential part of our identity. But here's the kicker and the real purpose of this post:
Students will never hear the call to Christ-like living without the conviction of God's Word.
In other words, to ascribe to Scripture's standards, they have to know Scripture. To break through the legalistic, feel-good religiosity of merely being "good," students must be presented with the standard of holiness. This doesn't happen by accident, or by osmosis, or by chance. It happens when you are committed to intentionally crafting an environment where God's Word is central.
Being "good," or moral, is a basic tenet of Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, and Sikhism. Being "good" is espoused as virtuous by secularists and atheists. Acting "good" is an aspect of Christianity. But being Christ-like is the singular, unique call of Christianity.