During the Seventh Crusade, led by St. Louis, Yves le Breton reported how he once encountered an old woman who wandered down the street with a dish full of fire in her right hand and a bowl full of water in her left hand. Asked why she carried the two bowls, she answered that with the fire she would burn up Paradise until nothing remained of it, and with the water she would put out the fires of Hell until nothing remained of them: “Because I want no one to do good in order to receive the reward of Paradise, or from fear of Hell; but solely out of love for God.” Today, this properly Christian ethical stance survives mostly in atheism.
At the heart of the good news of Jesus lies Grace. This abundant love of God that pours out on the undeserving, on anyone who will receive it. When Christians talk about being saved by faith alone, it is not some kind of buy now-pay later marketing trick. Only the person who stands before God for reasons that have nothing to do with their own merit can love Him.
By Grace means not by human endeavour. Whether you succeed or fail at life, you can still enjoy reconciliation with your Maker. That means that Grace frees us to respond to God in love in a way that no other system could even dare to provide. You are not honouring God so as to get something from Him. You already have it. The Christian who lives in the light of Grace loves God because God is lovely.
But Zizek is maybe right. Faced with a church intent on calcifying Grace into a doctrine or rationalising it into a lifestyle choice, Atheists arguably embody this core of the Gospel better – it is no good following God to get something, life to the full would be lived if we could love God because he is lovely.
Your Correspondent, Prefers atheist writers to Christians