This question was asked of me by a boy who heard a Christian leader infer that they were a better or higher ranked Christian than so and so. It is a very good question and I’ll attempt to answer it straightforwardly.
Short answer, NO!
Medium answer, read on…
This has been a common misconception amongst Christians for ages. Consider how the following three groups each opt into this view:
Roman Catholicism: There is the laity, deacons, priests, bishops, etc. Priests for example are believed to actually change (ontologically) when they become a priest as a higher level of holiness is required to handle the sacraments (like communion). This is not to mention the canonisation of people as saints and RC’s worship of them.
Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement: There are unbelievers, Christians (those who have been forgiven of their sin by believing the Gospel), and then super-Christians (those baptized by the Holy Spirit as a separate event subsequent to salvation, usually evidenced by speaking in tongues).
Works/Legalism: There are those who believe Christians are saved by works. Even many legalists, who think they believe the gospel but deny it by living as if it is in obedience to the Law that we are saved (the Law is good and points us to our duty but it cannot save).
Popularity/ Skill: Some buy into our cultural viewpoint that if you are a popular Christian, have published lots of books, or have incredible skills, that makes you a better Christian.
These perspectives are all wrong. Listen to what Jesus said to His disciples:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingomd of heaven?” And calling a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:1–4).
Jesus was not saying all children are automatically innocent (their first word is often “no!”). He was saying they are a prime example of being dependent upon another (their parents). What is required of someone to become great in the Lord’s eyes is to humble themselves and trust/believe/follow Jesus. Because salvation is of grace (Eph 2) and from start to finish it is rooted in faith (Ro 1:17) all Christians are equal in value before the Lord. Though some receive more gifts and high callings and authority (1 Cor 12:11) and some might be more mature in the faith (further along in the process of sanctification), they are all nonetheless equal in the strictest sense for all of this is of grace. The attitude of more mature Christians should never be to “pull rank” or boast as the disciples did but to have the spirit of Christ, which is humility. Humility is the true mark of a maturing Christian.
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,