Imagine a doctor travelling from village to village in some remote part of the world. As she enters each village, people, with excitement and hope begin bringing to her those who need healing. One can imagine the anticipation on the faces of the those who have been unable to find relief from their suffering anywhere else. Other villagers however, barely look up from tending their gardens. As neighbours call out to them that the doctor has arrived, those people say with some emphasis, “I don’t need a doctor. There's nothing wrong with me.”
This is what we find with Jesus. He said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. For I have come not to call those who see themselves as righteous but those who know they are sinners.”
Those of us who are emotionally and spiritually ill gladly come to Jesus. Atheists, on the other hand display irritation at the mere suggestion that there is something wrong. As one atheist told me a couple days ago, “I’m not an evil person and I’m not immoral.”
Sadly, that’s not the case with me. I am evil and immoral - to the core. Oddly enough, when I was at my worst I thought I was a pretty good person. Now that I’m on the road to spiritual health, I can see just how sick I was and how much farther I still have to go. Like C.S. Lewis said, “No one knows how bad he is until he tries really hard to be good. A good man knows of the evil still left in him while and totally evil man thinks that he’s pretty good.”
I think that’s part of the reason why outsiders are so shocked to find “sin” in the Church. If they understood the reality of human nature, there should be no surprise at all. To be surprised at sin in the Church is like being surprised at finding sick people in the hospital. In fact, a Church that admitted only saints would be like a hospital that admitted only healthy people. Both places would be a lot more pleasant to visit but they would totally miss their purpose.
Jesus said, “Don’t be surprised when tax collectors and prostitutes come streaming into the Kingdom of God.” Just the same, atheists shouldn’t be surprised to find ugly, tragic wickedness in the Church. It’s only we who are like that who can see our need for forgiveness. That’s why it’s those who reject God who fit the true definition of self-righteous. We who have called out to God for help recognise that we possess no righteousness that is inherent to us.
“So we can come boldly and with confidence to the throne of grace where we can find mercy and receive grace in our time of need.”
That’s what I find so sad about atheism. Atheist philosophy keeps people blind to their own need for healing. The atheist philosophy is:
I don’t need God to be a good person
I don’t need God
Therefore I must believe that I’m a good person.