Challenge: What Do Christians Gain in This Life?

Posted: April 10, 2012 by Amy Hall in God is Real, Weekly Challenge

Here’s a question that was sent to us:

Most atheists are only concerned about their time on earth right now and how they can benefit in this life since atheists generally don’t believe in an afterlife. So my question is: Why should someone become a Christian (without using heaven and hell as a reason)?

Since I have become a Christian I find that I am a more loving person, that I am more patient, am more full of joy and just more at peace. But using these reasons don’t seem to be that convincing. The atheist will say, “Well I find that I have also become a more loving, patient, and joyful person over the last few years as well. And I have done this without God.”

It seems that all of the reasons that I give as to how God has changed me, the atheist can achieve similar changes without God. So what are some good reasons dealing with the time on this earth, as to why someone should become a Christian? What things can the Christian attain in this life now that the atheist cannot?

What do you think? How would you answer this question? I have many thoughts on both the question and an answer, but I’ll restrain myself until I hear what you all have to say. I’m looking forward to hearing from you! And we’ll hear from Brett on this on Thursday.

Comments
  1. Albert says:

    A Christian can attain a real perspectiveon life.

    To think that this life is all there is gives a skewed view on what is important.

    Most people are goal oriented. And if my life here on earth is over once I die, then I would think my goals would be different.

    Very interesting question. Not so easy to answer, I think.

  2. Aaron says:

    I’m glad this question has come up for a daily challenge. Apologetics are often cold, and in my opinion, missing a key element when talking about spiritual matters. Talking about God in scientific terms can help remove barriers, but in the end, every conversation should point to Jesus and the Cross.

    While, the atheist (or anyone who does not know Jesus) can say they are more loving, kind or joyful, they do not have hope. They may even claim they have hope, but for what or based on what evidence? We who have been forgiven of sin by the blood of Jesus have eternal hope which should compel us to share this hope with others.

    When it comes to a non-Christians perspective on love, joy, peace, etc. it always reminds me of a C.S. Lewis Quote:

    “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

    Those that do not know Jesus, just don’t know what they are missing! They settle for far less than what Jesus offers. But to get to this point, IMHO, hope is the key question to raise. Do they have hope for life after death? If they do, what is it based on? If not, share the hope you have found in Jesus

  3. I think the real question that should be asked here is not, “What do Christians gain in this life?” but rather, “What is a Christian’s purpose in life, and can Atheism offer a purpose at all?”

    To start off this challenge, I would agree with the atheist. He’s absolutely right that he doesn’t need to believe in God in order to behave morally. I’d even agree that there may be some atheists who behave even more morally than some who believe. An atheist is perfectly capable of experiencing feelings of fulfillment in life without belief in God. In fact, the Bible confirms that God has made morality plain to everyone, even those who don’t believe.

    However, I don’t believe the problem is whether or not an atheist is capable of doing any of these things without believing in God. The real question is, do these things have any meaning apart from God?

    Think about it. If atheism is true, then the universe came from nothing and was caused by nothing. Mankind is a cosmic accident who has existed for a relatively short time on planet earth, and will soon be driven to extinction as the universe wears out and becomes nothing but waste heat and matter. When you die, you cease to exist and cease to have any memory of anything you ever did during your life. Furthermore, because the entire human race will cease to exist, there will be no one to remember you or anything you ever did.

    With this established, I’d ask my atheist friend, “What is your purpose in life?” Frankly, if everything I’ve just said is true, I don’t see how there possibly could be any purpose to life. If atheism is true the only outlook I could possibly have on life is nihilism.

    No matter how they answer the question, it will be a subjective purpose, ending forever with the destruction of the universe.

    So, what can Christianity offer you in this life. It can ground and make sense of the moral law you know to be true. It gives you the goal of fulfilling God’s plans and seeing those plans last for eternity in heaven. It also offers a relationship with God that never fails.

    Perhaps I might end with Pascal’s argument. If I live my whole life as a Christian only to die and find Christianity not to be true, I lose nothing. If I live my whole life as an atheist only to die and find Christianity to be true, I lose everything.

  4. What do Christians gain in this life? Are you serious?
    God Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life!

    He’ll fix your marriage, make your kids behave, cause you to prosper, and to be liked by everyone!
    You can have Your Best Life Now!

    But seriously, what the Christian gains in this life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control, which result from the assurance that sins are forgiven and that a better place awaits us in the next life.

  5. kewlinchristjesus says:

    Matthew 22:36-39, NLT: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
    Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

    An atheist may always treat others like themselves (yeah, sure), but the Christian recognizes the Lord our God. Scripture records Israel prospering/floundering due to their living in recognition/rebellion from the Lord God. (1 Corinthians 10:6-7, NLT: These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.”)

  6. Virgil says:

    Hope.

  7. ijmoblog says:

    As a Christian we have answers for all of the craziness that is going on in the world today. I don’t know how people keep it together without a biblical perspective of these last days. A major benefit of being a Christian is knowing that no matter what this world or Satan may throw at us Jesus has got our back and since we can read the last page of this novel we know that we have a good ending.

  8. Amy Hall says:

    Here are my thoughts on this one:

    I find that I am a more loving person, that I am more patient, am more full of joy and just more at peace. But using these reasons don’t seem to be that convincing.

    I think those reasons aren’t powerful because they don’t address the core of Christianity, which is the true story of a God who “because of His great love with which He loved us” carried out His “eternal purpose” of our redemption, forgiveness, and adoption as sons through Christ’s work on the cross “according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us,” so He can reveal throughout all ages “the surpassing riches of His grace,” for the purpose of “the praise of the glory of His grace which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (see Ephesians 1-3).

    The reason why someone would become a Christian for the future is the same reason why he would become a Christian in the present—to be with God, to know and enjoy Him (and particularly, His grace), to build a relationship with Him, because He is real and Christianity is true.

    “To live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1). The main (and most important) thing your atheist friend does not have and will not have either now or in the future is God Himself.

    The answer to the atheist can’t be how God can change him and/or make him a better person. That would be using God as a means to an end. But He is the end itself! The relationship itself is valuable—knowing Him is valuable—because He is valuable. Just as Paul says, “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3). And back to Ephesians, Paul prays that they will “know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” This is what the atheist doesn’t have because he’s still an unreconciled enemy of God.

    If you’re not married, imagine you are. Why is it better to be married to your wife (or husband) than to not? Is it because of the stuff she can do for you and give you? Or is it because of the relationship you enjoy with her? Isn’t it because you’re able to enjoy her in herself, and not mainly for what she gives you? If someone asked you why you were better off being married to her than single, and they kept insisting you answer with a benefit she gives you rather than answering “because I love and want to be with her,” wouldn’t you think that was an odd question?

    Now obviously, your friends who are questioning you could marry and enjoy their own relationships, even if they’re not married to your wife. But God is in a different category. He is unique, and relationship with Him is ultimate and unique. No one can enjoy this relationship anywhere else but through the reconciliation to Him that comes through Christ.

    We don’t always need to answer the exact question that’s asked of us—not if the question is misleading or backs us into a small and insignificant corner of Christianity, not if the rest of the room is stunningly beautiful and significant. If an atheist is pressing us for worldly benefits that come from God—benefits he can already understand and relate to, he has missed the whole point of what it means to be a Christian, and it’s okay to take him out of that corner and show him the whole room, regardless of whether or not he believes in it. We tell the truth, and God will open his eyes or not.

    God is the primary benefit of being a Christian. But all that said, when explaining to the atheist why he should be a Christian, why shouldn’t we include the reason of Heaven and Hell in our explanation of who the God is who is calling us to Himself? God is the sovereign judge of the universe, and the truth is that we’re storing up His wrath for the day when we’ll be judged…unless we have a pardon. This should be said to the atheist because this is the truth. Remember, we’re trying to convince people of the truth, not just find the right words to say to convince them to come over to our side. In order to convince them of the truth, we need to tell them the truth, whether they believe it or not. If we only tell them things they could learn on Oprah, we’re selling Christianity short.

    If the atheist says, “I don’t care about being reconciled to God or avoiding Hell because I don’t think either exists,” you don’t need to try to come up with a different answer that will please him. The answer is, “Reality is reality, whether you accept it or not. Would you like to look into why I think God and Hell are both real? It seems like that’s the first thing you should explore, so you’ll know whether or not you should care.”

    The atheist will either see the truth and love it, or see the truth and hate it, or he won’t acknowledge the truth at all. His response doesn’t change the message we’re sent out to give.

  9. Matthew Dona says:

    This challenge seems to be missing the bigger picture, but for now I’ll deal with the challenge. The passage comes to mind where it says that it is more blessed to give then it is to receive. We now this, and even those who are involved in philanthropy can to you this. Christianity is one of the religions or world views where the individuals give of themselves. Different cults like the Mormons for example are one of the most passionate people in sharing their faith with others, but this zeal is done in part to receive salvation and also in part that they may one day become a god themselves. Classical christianity says that good works are not done in order to receive salvation but is rather an out flowing of the joy and salvation they already have. Not all christians carry this out this way, but classically giving is not done with selfish intent but with a genuine joy of giving towards others, and as a result from that you receive a blessing as well.

    All christians I know believe this is a shallow reason for christianity, treating it as in the words of Karl Marx, “an opiate of the mind”. Christianity thought of as a religious club that’ll make you feel better, but christianity is thought of as the way reality really, and others should consider it for the reason of it being true, not because it’ll make you feel better.