One of the common objections to Christianity is that the Christian faith is just a bunch of rules to follow, a seemingly never-ending list of dos and don’ts you have to adhere to in order to “earn your keep.” To be fair, it’s understandable why some would think that way. Some of the books of the Bible feel like an ongoing list of rules to ensure that we appease God (here’s looking at you, Leviticus).
But when we zoom out and look at the big picture, what we see is actually something very different. When it comes to Christianity and, more specifically, our relationship with God, the relationship always precedes the rules. This is the point of Paul’s letter to the Galatians—that our right standing before God isn’t a result of our religious doing but the result of a relationship with God the Father made possible through faith in his Son. At no point in Paul’s letter is this more clear than in chapter 4:
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”Galatians 4:4-5
Those two verses are packed with rich theology that I don’t have the time or ability to fully unpack in the allotted word count for these devotionals. At any rate, the essence of Paul’s argument is this: God sent his Son so that we could become his children.
This is the good news of the gospel. In Christ, you are no longer “under the law.” You are not enslaved to religious rule-keeping. In Christ, you have been adopted into the family of God as a beloved son or daughter. Are there rules? Sure, if you want to call them that. But just like most “family rules,” they exist for our benefit and protection. We strive to obey our Heavenly Father, not to earn our place at the table, but because He’s first our Father. The relationship always precedes the rules.