An atheist of note (a former atheist, actually. The man died recently, and in the moment of his demise was instantly convinced of the veracity of God's existence) once commented that "Christians are the biggest evidence that there is no God." By this, he meant to indict believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as charlatans and hypocrites whose lives indicate that the God in whom they believe has no real moral impact in their lives because He actually does not exist.
I am not disturbed by the accusation of the critic, which was to be expected. I was troubled, however, by a noted Christian luminary, who when asked about the comment, agreed with it.
Certainly, professing Christians far too often fail to live in conformity with our Lord's character, and with our profession of His presence in our lives. The epistles of the New Testament frequently address the failures of early believers to faithfully reflect the spirit and truth of the Lord Jesus. "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (I Corinthians 3:1-3).
This fact notwithstanding, the truth remains that Christians are the primary evidence in the world that there is a God. "Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14). Indeed, had there been no believers in the last 2,000 years, I suspect that the human race would, at the very least, be poised upon the brink of extinction. The Lord Jesus came "in the fullness of the time" (Galatians 4:4). Our Savior entered history at a point when technology began to have significant impact on human existence and culture. As beneficial as such advances have been, they have also made possible the wholesale destruction of the race. Were it not for the influence of Christ and of Christians, particularly in Western culture, the earth might well be a desolate, radiation-poisoned wasteland of destruction. Amid all that the church has been for the world, the point can be argued that the very survival of humanity should be included in the consideration.
Of far greater significance, however, are the literally trillions upon trillions of Christ-wrought and loving acts performed by believers in the last 2,000 years. In every moment since the Holy Spirit came to indwell Christians, some devoted saint somewhere has responded to His moving upon them to love God by loving people. Indeed, as I write these words, how many hungry children are eating food provided in the name of Christ? Which medicine administered for God's glory presently heals the wounds and cures the sickness of the injured and the infirm? What man, who by his own hand has ravaged his life with moral destruction, nevertheless looks toward a rescue mission funded and staffed by Christians who believe themselves to be God's emissaries of forgiveness, hope and newness of life? In this moment, how many acts of grace are performed by Christ-inhabited believers in ways that no one will ever know about, saving God and perhaps the beneficiary of His goodness revealed in the Christian through whom He works?
On and on the list could go as we consider the fulfillment of our Lord's promise - "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16). This He does, confirming His existence, and even more, conveying His character through the lives of those without whom the world would be a dark and dying ruin. Surely fault can be found in the life of every professing Christian, including the most devoted among us. However, faith is much more to be found, and of course, the Christ of faith. I don't expect atheists to see this, of course. I do expect, however, that preachers of the Gospel will realize the dynamic presence of the Lord Jesus in His people. The aforementioned preacher doubtless did not mean to slander God's people. But he did, and even more, he slandered the Lord Jesus Himself by his failure to appreciate the countless acts of grace and acts of faith performed in the name of Christ by the people of Christ. Yes, our Lord is known in the world by His people, that is, both the fact of His existence and the quality of His character.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father."
Weekly Memory Verse
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
(I Thessalonians 5:1-2)