Then there is the matter of our own death. Ordinarily we do our best to avoid thinking about mortality, and many of us resist going to funerals. Funerals remind us of our own extinction, and the notion that we will one day cease to exist is a source of anxiety and terror. But Paul writes, “Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?” For Christians, death is a temporal end but not a final end. The secular person thinks there are two stages: life and death. For the Christian, there are three: life, death, and the life to come. This is why, for the Christian, death is not so terrifying.

Finally, Christianity enables us to become the better persons we want to be. The decent and honorable things we do are no longer a matter of thankless routine. This isn’t just a morality we made up for ourselves. Rather, we are pursuing our higher destiny as human beings. We are becoming what we were meant to be.

Christianity not only makes us aspire to be better, but it also shows us how to be better. In marriage, for example, Christianity teaches that marriage is not merely a contract. If we treat it that way and use it for our own benefit, it doesn’t work very well. For Christians, marriage is a covenant not merely between the two parties but also between them and God. The operating principle of Christian marriage is agape or sacrificial love. This means that marriage functions best when each partner focuses primarily on the happiness of the other. This can be attempted as a secular proposition but human selfishness makes it very difficult. Christian marriage is much easier, because God is now a central part of the relationship. So when there are hardships in marriage, we pray to God and He gives us grace. Agape is not so much human love as it is God’s love shining through us. This is a bountiful resource that is available for the asking, and when we make agape the ground of our marriages and relationships, we find that the whole system works and we are much happier as a result.

We want to be better parents, and what better examples can we provide for our children than the Christian dad and mom practicing the sacrificial love of agape? We want to be good citizens, and can we find a more inspiring model of genuine compassion and charity than Mother Teresa? A man who saw her embrace a leper told her he wouldn’t do that for all the money in the world. She replied that she wouldn’t either; she was doing it for the love of Christ. This is the same motive that seems to have propelled humanity’s greatest acts of heroism and sacrifice.