Today I was riding in the car with the local Christian radio station on (yes, it does happen occassionally) when I was struck by the comments of a caller. He said, "Yeah, I'm a Christian myself...I try to do good, and I talk about God some. I wouldn't say I'm a great Christian, but I do pretty good."
I can't help but wonder if behind this comment is a righteousness that is, at least in part, based upon works. I think it is more implicit, but there nonetheless. My feeling is that many Christians understand that they are saved by grace but fail to understand the keeping power of God through sanctification that is also entirely a work of grace. They feel that God has done His part and now they are obligated to do theirs. Of course, they fail miserably to live up to even their own standards, and feel on good days they are "pretty good" Christians at best.
When we truly understand salvation by faith through grace, I think we will stop thinking in categories of great, good, marginal, and "hanging by a thread" Christians. If this man has truly professed faith in Christ and has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he is not just a pretty good Christian. The grace of God is more powerful than good enough. It is more than enough to declare righteous the worst of sinners.
It is perfectly appropriate to talk about maturing in Christ, but this is very different from the burden of moralism that continues to enslave so many.