Several people I know have questioned why we need to bother with belief in God, specifically, in the Christian God, when we can live good lives without such a belief, let alone religion (whatever nebulous concept people have about it).

The reason is simple. Christianity is not about being good or bad; it’s about being alive or dead. Less dramatically, Christianity is about allegiance: who controls our lives, God or us? This is depicted in the third chapter of Genesis, when Adam and Eve chose to reject what God said to them: not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is the central issue of Christianity – do we accept or reject God (and therefore) God’s word as the final authority?

Morality is about being good or bad, and is a different issue. Like critics say, people can do good or bad acts whether or not they believe in God. (Leaving aside the issue that “good” and “bad” are determined by your worldview.)

By analogy, consider a soldier who is courageous, loyal and honourable, who always does his best and even is willing to sacrifice himself in battle to save his fellow soldiers. He is always willing to help others, never badmouths other people and treats all people with respect. Such a soldier would be considered a good man. But what if he were on the opposing side? He’d still be a good man, but he could never fight for our side because he is a citizen of another country; his loyalty is not with us.

That’s the difference between being a Christian and being good. It doesn’t matter what you do, what matters is who you know: whose side you belong to.