Has being a Christian made you a ‘better person’?

So, interesting side effect of my new found faith is the changes that have appeared within me. Some I’ve deliberately made, (but too few of these, sadly, as I have the will power of something with very little will power. A puppy?) but when I look at my life a year ago and my life now, there are some real and fundamental differences that, while unexpected, are welcome. Not necessarily at the level of ‘Better person= selling all my shit and moving to Africa to care for orphans’ different, but growing into being more fully myself is probably the best way to describe it.

Apparently I’m a late developer. Your 40s are the new 20s, right?

Some of these are elements that I never really loved, but just assumed it was ‘how I was’. Despite decades of reinforced patterns though, they seemed to have shifted without any conscious effort on my part. I don’t know. The Atheist Me would scoff at the very entertaining of the mere thought that fundamental things about me have changed since I accepted my faith. But I don’t listen to her as much any more.

Which makes me wonder; has Christianity made you a better person? For those of you who chose to become a Christian, how (if at all) are you different as a person now as compared to before you found faith?

And for those who were born into faith, how do you think your faith makes you different from someone without it? This is obviously tricky because you don’t have a ‘before’ to base it on. But is there another path that you might have gone down, do you think?

Of course, this is all subjective and I’m not trying to prove any point. I’m also not defining ‘better’ so really, go for it. I’m just interested. I know enough now to realise that nothing is ever just me. If I experience it then I’m fairly sure that a million other people have also had the same thoughts (sob, not special) and I’d like to hear how this may have manifested for you.

23 thoughts on “Has being a Christian made you a ‘better person’?

  1. Such an interesting question. I have always had this idea that Christians are supposed to be extra evolved in an emotional sense. And more giving, less caught up in nastiness and materialism etc… So when I meet Christians who aren’t living up to this ideal I wonder why. And I know that this is my own ridiculous prejudice about Christians, but part of me still thinks that if people are living their faith actively then they will have higher morals than us heathens because they are following the rules of absolute Goodness.

    I guess this is where free will comes into it. The code of conduct is there for people to aspire to etc.

    Looking forward to reading other responses…..

    • I absolutely know where you’re coming from in your first paragraph, which makes me wonder why we (and I know you and I have similar ideas here so I think I know your thoughts too) were so scornful and eye rolly about Christians. If we thought they had these excellent motives, then why did we have distain? Or maybe you were never as disdainful as I was!

  2. I grew up in the church… faith has been a journey for me rather than a destination… it isn’t so much about doctrine as it is about relationship… okay, it is NOT about doctrine for me… it is all about relationship… relationship with God… relationship with neighbor… relationship with EVERY neighbor… and sharing that love of God even when others don’t want it… that is part of the reason why this retired AF Chaplain and current pastor prefers to be called a Christ-follower rather than a Christian… too often I refer to christians with a lower case “c” as they are not exactly what I would call someone that Christ would recognize… Keep journeying and keep reaching out for that peace that passes all understanding and that love that knows no boundaries…

  3. Thank you for giving me something to think about. I grew up a “good little church girl and then have taken a few curved paths in my life. I do a lot wrong but I try my best to be compassionate and do things that I think are right. To add on to what Michael Moore (weird since that is also my husband’s name) said above, my pastor says that relationships come before tasks all the time. He says that relationships bring joy which brings you closer to God which brings more joy. I am working really hard on those relationships with people that tend to irritate me. Relationships are hard for me since I am an introvert and, if I am not careful, can be a loner. ❤

    • I find that when you push through with relationship with people who tend to irritate you, the relationships can be excellent. I’m thinking specifically about one man I work with who I wanted to punch for several months but now I really enjoy his company. I think everyone has a side to them that you can relate to and like- you just have to find it.

    • I think you’ve nailed it when you said that you do things wrong but you try to do things that are right and you try to be compassionate. And I like that relationships take such a central role in your faith.

      This makes complete sense to me as an atheist trying to understand Christians. You strive to treat people well and to nurture others through relationship. This seems like active faith rather than just rhetoric about loving thy neighbour etc. It’s easier to relate to Christians trying to be decent whilst admitting to imperfection than it is to relate to Upstanding Citizens who Go To Church (like our prime minister for example) who then make decisions and take actions which show no compassion for others. This makes no sense.

      I also think that introversion is ok! Introversion and relationships are not mutually exclusive. You are probably a lovely sensitive person who has very meaningful and important relationships with a few people rather than loads of acquaintances. And Rosa Parks was an introvert and she was quietly magnificent!

  4. I think my growth in Christian faith has really filled out my understanding of the world. The contrast is stark – in the old atheist days, the world was completely understood. Scientific processes and materialism made the world small. Christianity has filled me with an appreciation for the world and all its mystery. The fact that our lives and world mirror something bigger than ourselves has really awakened in me a wonder in the world.

    I think Christianity has also broken my militant individualism – to live for something bigger than oneself will do that I guess.

  5. Hi Eva, I think positive change that creeps up on us unsuspecting is the most exciting kind.

    I wasn’t raised in a christian family, I chose to be a christian in my mid teens, and I think being a christian has definitely made me a better person. I think it tells me to do things I maybe wouldn’t have done otherwise (e.g forgive and love enemies, and speak the truth in love), my loyalty to Jesus gives me a motivation to do what he asks, and (and this is harder to see, but I think still real) I believe the Spirit of God in me helps me do what I wouldn’t find at all easy – maybe that is what has happened to you.

  6. As always, I appreciate your blog and your honesty. After reading this blog this Scripture came to my mind: John 15:16 “You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” The amazing thing I love about this Scripture is we have a God that takes time out to choose us to live a new life for Him. Then He goes and appoints us, gives us direction to go and produce fruit. First, I believe God produces fruit in our own lives so that we can go out and produce. The fruit He produces in us is a change of heart, attitude, perspective and even beliefs. If you read John 15: 1-8 He talks about how we are branches and we are to remain connected to the vine (Jesus) and as we do that fruit will continued to be produced. Another reference to fruit can be found in Galatians 5:22-23 where Paul talks about the fruits of the Spirit. So now this is God’s Spirit in us producing a fruit for our lives. The fruits of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, self control, peace, patience and faithfulness.

    So to your question, yes God is continuing to make me a better person personally and for Him. Before Christ I was living a complete different lifestyle. I was dead to my own sin and lost. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17 I have been made new. All old things have now passed. This newness that is being referred to is the changing of my mind (Romans 12:1-2), of my lifestyle, of my conversations and my actions. Before Christ I was self centered, I didn’t treat women and people the way they should be treated, I had lust issues, bad habit of smoking and the list can go on and on. As I have been living with Christ the past 10 years, God has been gradually making changes in my life. Some change happened in the moment I surrendered my all to God and other changes has happened over time. All in all I am thankful there is a power greater than me, as you mentioned greater than my own will power that helps me grow and make better choices.

    Sorry to be writing this long post but I felt compelled to share. If you have time you can check out a more longer version of my story and see the transitions I have made in life while finding Christ. -> http://jscottsamarco.com/2014/07/02/j-scotts-story/

    P.S. I am not trying to promote my blog by any means. Just want to create some more dialogue. These conversations gets me excited! Blessings!

    • Your whole comment made me smile. I can relate to it so much. It also made me realise that I actually enjoy scripture references these days! Once I used to skim over any references as I wanted to get to the ‘meat’ of the idea, but now I appreciate the bible on a whole new level.

      Thanks for sharing the link- I look forwards to reading it.

  7. Being a Christian only made me better if the people around me were people of good will.

    Overall, I’d say being a Christian made me anxious. Anxious that I might go to hell, anxious that my friends would go to hell, anxious that I wasn’t giving enough to the poor, anxious that I didn’t spend enough time in prayer or evangelism, anxiety over trying to reconcile the Old Testament to the New…I’ll stop at that.

    I have much more peace since leaving Christianity .

    • I think the anxiety you felt/feel is an interesting paradox. I hear that a lot within the Christian circles; “I should be doing more”, “I could be doing better”. It both fascinates and frustrates me–not the sentiment, but my reaction to it. It makes me wonder if I’m doing my faith wrong, if I’ve crossed some sort of plateau, or if I’m simply traveling a different path than my fellow believers. All because I don’t feel that way. Oh, I recognize it within myself, but I just shrug (which is the fascinating part). We could all be doing “more”, “better”, etc. But, for some reason, the feeling doesn’t eat at me like it does for (too) many others. I can’t help but feeling that God doesn’t want it eating at us either (that’s the frustrating part). Sorry…a long drawn out comment to simply say I get where you were at and why you walked away. 🙂

  8. It’s interesting that the majority of your responses have included the term “relationship”. For me, as a Christian, I feel much the same way. My faith has given me a deeper understanding of the value of honest, open (minded) relationship.It’s kind of become a craving. I’m also able to look back over my past experiences and see a slow turning to a sort of “other-centeredness”–a getting away from the concerns of “me” and on to the concerns/needs of “them”. Far be it for me to say I’m perfect at either. There’s still people that set me off (too easily). There are still opportunities to reach out that I miss. But still, the overall growth (as I call it) is there. My priorities have definitely shifted; from work, success, stuff, to family, God, and “the lessers”.

    • It’s interesting that you say that- some of the changes that have happened with myself are related to relationships and my own perceptions and abilities surrounding them. Not all ‘good’, in that they are glitter and roses and oh-so-much-love; some a greater clarity surrounding the nature of the relationships that I’m involved in vs my own self worth. After having experiences the (what I think is the) true nature of ‘agape’, it puts things in perspective.
      But people seem to give me the irrits less, too, which is a good thing.

  9. I was raised as a Catholic/Christian (we didn’t note a difference when I was a kid).

    And part of being raised and educated as such meant that I was taught to assume I was, or should be, better. Than others.

    Learning to be a better person came with age. I don’t think it’s unusual for you to find this effort being made at this stage of your life. It’s a continuing process for those who even think about it and struggle toward this ‘being better’ thing.

    It’s important to get to the real core, not being better than other people, but being a better person, as you say, improving your own self rather than others.

    That’s a continuing struggle for me.

    In October, I will return to the city where I got this education, my 60th high school reunion. And I will meet again many of the kids I got that education with.

    I will try hard to judge only myself. That’s a part of the struggle.

  10. Christianity has made me a different person. Better, yes, but mostly deeper. It’s given a depth and meaning to my goodness or morality. It’s given me a much greater desire and capacity for goodness. I feel lighter. I feel less surrounded by the heaviness of my own existence. I think this lightness allows me to delight more in goodness and showing love to others. I feel more joyful and more open to surrendering my life to christ. I always held on to control so tightly before. I feel more hopeful and sure that the lord desires great things through my life.

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