“I Don’t need God to be good.” We get that message from people opposed to belief in God. They don’t think that believing in God really affects how people live. Unfortunately, it is a sad truth that people who claim to be Christians often don’t show it in how they live. At the same time, some atheists live very moral lives. However, I need God to live a good life.
My father was an atheist and a very moral man. To my knowledge, he was never unfaithful to my mother and he was honest in his financial dealings with others, including the government. He was a teacher all of his life and was respected by his students and colleagues at Indiana University. Most of us know someone who never goes to church and yet lives a good life. We have also seen reports in the media and have had personal experiences with religious leaders who exploited others in financial or moral ways. On a practical level, why should anyone be a Christian?
An old saying is that “sitting in a bank doesn’t make you rich.” When I called my child’s room a pigpen, she defended her messy room by saying, “Sitting in a pig pen doesn’t mean you are a pig.” The point of these examples is that a person who claims to be a Christian or even wears a religious title may not even believe in God or Christianity. For some, religion is a way to get rich or gain influence. The “Does God Exist?” ministry makes no attempt to claim perfection, nor do we attempt to defend organized religion. Instead, our effort is to show searching people that there is scientific support for God’s existence and the credibility of the Bible.
I need God to live a good life because God’s word gives us a set of standards of what is good and what is evil. In addition to moral standards, it tells us how to live productive lives at peace with others. You can’t read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 – 7 and not see that it shows the road to peace and goodness. Likewise, Matthew 25:31-46 lays out how we should act as Christians. No human philosophy comes close to the teachings of Christ in showing how to live a good and moral life.
In Acts 2:38, Peter talks about becoming a Christian, and he fills in the missing piece that no skeptic has or understands. Peter promises that those who become Christians will receive “the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That means God is living in us to help us overcome our weaknesses. Whatever goodness I possess is not a product of my intellect or genetics. I am so far from “survival of the fittest” that I need God to live a good life. My life is different from what it would have been if I had followed my biology or human philosophy. I’m far from perfect, but I am complete as a Christian, which is what the biblical word “perfect” means (Matthew 5:48).
— John N. Clayton © 2022