FOR many years, many in the western world thought Christianity was a contractual arrangement where a person lived a holy, chaste and moral life and, in exchange, God would grant you a place in heaven.
This is a crude way of putting what many people thought was the arrangement in Christianity.
Yet, how accurate is that, really?
I remember making a case to someone precisely about this issue.
I asked the person whether the same kind of “contractual” arrangement could exist in a marriage.
I posed the scenario of a good husband who always did the right thing, but he lived apart from his wife.
We could say that the wife lived in Sydney, but the husband chose to live in Perth.
Could such a relationship exist, I asked?
The question I’m raising in this article is a critical question.
Is God interested in a personal relationship or just a distant, contractual understanding?
The evidence from the Bible is that the former is what counts.
It should make sense to the person who has some Bible knowledge.
After all, God created us in His own image and likeness.
It should follow, then, that we are special and different from all the other creatures God has created.
Some people might not think there is a great distinction between the two and in practise, there may not be.
However, the motivation is miles apart.
If the husband and wife do not relate to each other, then what is the point of the marriage?
You may be a good person.
You may be a diligent person who manages the finances of the marriage well.
You may keep the lawns moved and you may even give money to your spouse to make sure he or she is surviving well.
Yet, without the relational element, what is the point of being married?
I have met many people who claim to believe in Christ and yet they never attend church, except for Easter and Christmas.
They never regularly share fellowship with Christians – that is to say – they do not get involved in, what the Bible calls, the body of Christ.
They never submit to the biblical requirement of baptism, nor engage in the communal practise of what is called “communion”.
These things are all part of the “norm” for the Christian church.
It’s the sign of genuine faith that is not resting on the contractual convenience which allows a person to stay at a distance from God and allows them to set the terms for what one thinks is “enough” to get them into heaven.
Rather, when a person truly has faith in Christ, they submit to and seek what the New Testament portrays as a relationship with God.
Good relationships are always personal and it is no different with God.
To know God is not merely to know about God, but to seek Him by submitting to what Jesus says makes for a relationship with God.
Jesus gives some solid challenges on this and I urge you to read them: Matt. 11:28-30; Matt.16:24-26; John 14:1-7.
Echuca Community Church