What does God care about? How does a person receive eternal life? What must I do to be saved? I find it ironic how often the answer to these three question will contradict each other even when you are asking the same person. For example, a person like me who has been saved through Christ’s loving and sacrificial giving of Himself of the cross will so often declare that God is about relationships. Yet, when asked how a person is to become godly even people who believe what I believe will suddenly give a list of rules as their answer. So, which is it? Does God value rules or relationships? A real question to ask ourselves is this, “Is God primarily a rule giver or a life giver?” I realize that God is, in a sense, both. However, if that is as far as we go then we are ignoring a fundamental question: why did God give the rules in the first place? The answer: God reveals the rules of this universe to us so that we would have life. Where is life found? It is found in a relationship with God. That is what His teaching points us to. It is what His teaching asks us to believe and trust. Throughout the Scripture we see that God is all about relationships. He wants a relationship with us, and He wants us to value our relationships with others.
Paul says of the law (the rules), “24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Galatians 3:24-25)
The overarching focus of God’s commands is all about relationships. Why do we make it about rules? Is it because of our own desire to put God in a box so that we can control Him? Is it because we are uncomfortable with a relationship where we are the dependent one? God’s purposes have always been about a relationship with us. He walked with Adam and Eve in the garden to have a relationship with them. (Genesis 3:8) He called Abraham his friend. (James 2:23) He spoke with Moses as a man does with another man. (Exodus 33:11) These individuals are the most common ones used to establish God as the supreme law giver. Yet, we see God working so specifically in all their lives to show to us His intention to meet with us in relationship. Could it be that we have missed something as we have interpreted God to be so interested in the law?
Our entire understanding of godliness will change if we make it about relationships. Suddenly, we see the whole Old Testament in a new light. Suddenly, we can bring passages of Scripture together that seemed to challenge one another. Suddenly, Paul’s words to the Galatians make so much more sense. He says, “Therefore the law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24) What is the tutor? The tutor is the law. What is its purpose? Its purpose is to lead us to Christ! It does not lead us to religion, or ritual. The law leads us to a person. That person is Jesus Christ.
Do you find yourself making God’s call about following rules? Resist the temptation to lessen God’s call by making it about rules or rituals. Can you imagine the God of the Bible settling for just being an impersonal King? The Bible can’t. He is a personal King who is also our Friend and Shepherd. He wants a relationship that brings life. He desires to be a real person in our lives. He wants to be a person of importance to us. He is important. He is real. Do we treat Him like a statue or a marble inscription, or we treat Him as our beloved?
Something to think about,