~ by John Graham

A Friend’s letter

Some time back Mark Maulding, a friend of mine, sent me this note. I heard a father say this to me just recently, and it reminded me about this letter.

God’s Good, You’re Bad, Try Harder

A friend told me recently that both of his teenagers rushed in from their youth group meeting and grabbed a bite to eat on the way to their rooms.  As they were passing by, he asked them, “How did youth group go?”  The 16 year old boy said, “Oh you know, Dad.  God’s Good.  You’re Bad.  Try Harder.”  That’s the unfortunate message Christians hear every week.

In my recent introduction at our Pastor’s Conference, I shared that I believe there are three distinct types of Christians attending a typical worship service each week.

  • Group 1 – The spiritually hungry.  These are the Christians who have a great desire to grow in the Lord.  They are like a dog that is waiting for food by the bowl at meal time who is saying “I’ll eat whatever you give me.  Just feed me!”
  • Group 2 – The spiritually disillusioned.  These are the Christians who can’t figure out why they can’t get Christianity to work for them.  They were excited and full of hope in the beginning but now some are disappointed, some are bored and some are ready to give up.  They are like the dog that keeps coming to get food.  Over time, the dog grows tired of the lack of energy and the lack of flavor from what they eat.
  • Group 3 – Those in pain emotionally and relationally.  These Christians often carry their secrets and are ashamed to share their struggles.  They are like the dog that goes and lies down in a dark place under a bed and doesn’t care if they eat or not.

If you were to ask each of these Christians what the Christian life is all about, they might each answer similar to the 16 year old boy.  God’s Good.  I’m Bad.  Try Harder.  This view of the Christian life is not only incorrect, it’s unsustainable, and it doesn’t help either group to experience genuine growth, fulfillment or healing.

The Gospel of the New Covenant however, can help all three groups.  Jesus said,

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
~ Matthew 5:6

The Gospel tells us that everyone of us who believe has been given that righteousness, so we can stop looking for it.

“He made Him who knew no sin to become sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. ” 
~ 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)

Believing that you are as righteous as Jesus is the key to spiritual growth, according to Hebrews 5:13.

The Gospel tells us that there is hope for those who are disillusioned because they can find that their identity is in their union with God, not in their sins, failures, successes or service to God.  Colossians 2:10 says it this way:

“So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
 ~ Colossians 2:10 (NLT)

And for those in emotional and relational pain, there is hope for you, also.  Jesus promised that He came to bind up the brokenhearted according to Isaiah 61:1:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”
~ Isaiah 61:1

In Isaiah 53:4, we are also encouraged by these words:

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
~ Isaiah 53:4 (ESV) 

Religion and relationships will always let us down or even damage us.  The real Jesus in the real Gospel, revealed in the fantabulous New Covenant, will always lift us up and heal us.  The Gospel of the New Covenant is this:  God is good.  You are righteous.  Trust Christ in you to live your life!

Warmly in Christ,


Mark is founder and president of Grace life international

Leading Christians into the life giving power of Gods grace

All Content Copyright © 2016 Mark Maulding but feel free to pass it on!

I have heard the same message from most clients.

God’s  Good, I’m Bad, Try Harder.

My question to you is, How is life working for you?

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