One of the hardest things to understand about Christianity is the simplicity of its function. Unlike any other belief in the world, this is the only one that simplifies a righteous stance with God to the decision of faith. To some, this seems too simple as it dismisses the personal standard of working towards being better people. We naturally expect some kind of standard so that our labors would contribute to receiving the title of righteousness. This is especially true for a world where rewards typically come through hard work. Why not so for a right standing with God?
What is often forgotten about righteousness before God is the matter of relationship. Whether this misconception comes from the way we have been treated, or a lack of exposure to scripture, somehow God seems to many like a district manager of a big tech company. Rather than viewing Him as a father concerned for His creation, He is painted as a big wig in formal attire who only recognizes the hardest working pawns in his company. What is so often inconsiderable to us is the possibility of one who is truly seeking to be our friend.
The Apostle Paul, in writing to the Romans, simplified this idea the best way possible. He states that
To him who works, wages are not given as a gift, but as a debt. But to him who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. Romans 4:4-5
Think about it. Did God create a world He did not intend to have any concern for? Is it logical even to think that the being who spoke our planet into existence would want no personal connection with those made in His image?
Perhaps to an unbelieving world, it is understandably hard to accept that faith is the only requirement for a righteous standing before God. However, when you consider the idea that this God of our creation has a desire for fellowship with us, you can understand how an association based on works removes the factor of relationship. Our engagements would look more like a business exchange rather than an act of love if faith was removed from the equation. On the other hand, with faith, our service to God is done out of gratefulness for what He has done for us.
The way Paul presents this example is thought provoking. When you think about how faith factors into the subject of righteousness, you begin to see how meaningless our service to God would be without it. If our association with God were on the basis of our works, there would be nothing to gain but a slight pat on the shoulder. Why would we even care to seek righteousness if God was just a CEO weighing our numbers? Fortunately, He is so much more. He is a father who loves us.
By Andrew Inman