Recently, when witnessing to an atheistic couple, the wife told me that she thought she was good. But in her experience, Christians “think they’re better than everyone else”. After taking her through a few commandments and establishing that she was not good, she asked me, “Are you good?” It was a challenge. How would I respond to that?
How did Jesus respond when He was called good? “There is none good but one, that is, God” (Mt. 19:17).
The fact is, God is good. All Christians know that, but do some flaunt that goodness as their own and look down on those who are as yet unforgiven? Some.
But not all.
Others know that indeed, we are righteous through faith. But our righteousness is Christ’s, not our own. Our sins are forgiven, not paid for by us. Our hope of eternal life is made possible by God through faith in His Son. We are stewards of our received gifts, not the creators and distributors of them.
So the fast and easy answer for the atheist is, yes, we are righteous. Yes, we are forgiven. Yes, we are holy. Yes, we are going to heaven. Yes, we are the children of God. But that is hardly the whole answer.
Why are we righteous and holy? Why are we forgiven? What makes us so special, that we get to go to heaven and receive the inheritance of God’s children? Why do we love the truth? What is the source of our joy? And last but not least, why do we care what happens to atheists?
Because the truth is that we live on the merit of Someone else. We live for Someone else. We die for Someone else. We are not our own. We are what we are by the grace of God and without Him, we can do nothing.
So what was my answer to the atheist? No, I am not good. God is good. I am forgiven.
That answer satisfied her. She now has the example of a believer who knows that her righteousness is not her own. She has something and someone greater than herself to live for. You see, if you don’t show the atheist that which is greater than yourself, why would they want what you have?
It is common, but unwise to pretend to be a loser to make the atheists in your life feel more comfortable. By all means, humble yourselves and be gentle, not proud. But don’t pretend that you are anything less than a child of the Most High God. Christians may be many things, but they are certainly not losers. Show them the fruit that resides in winners. Show them Christ.
If God, through the sacrifice of His Son, has nailed our sins to the cross, how can we then call ourselves unrighteous? Faith imputes the righteousness of Jesus unto us. Tell that to an atheist, and they’ll know that you’re not a braggart. Tell that to a Christian, and they’ll probably chastise you for something. But it’s not about you, remember? It’s about Him.