When someone asks a question like; “what does God require of me” they are usually presented with a range of behaviors and activities that reflect a lifestyle associated with Christianity… read the bible, pray, go to church, witness, tithe, etc.
When Jesus was asked this question in John 6:28-29 he responded “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent”. Jesus had the perfect opportunity to impress upon his listeners the importance of good behavior and spiritually oriented habits, he chose however to require only one thing – believe.
Why would Jesus pass up such a chance to set people straight regarding the importance of living a life that is in line with their faith? The answer is simple; if we have a deep revelation of Christ and His accomplishments on the cross, good behavior and spiritual habits follow. If on the other hand, we have no revelation of Jesus, then it is meaningless whether we act like good Christians or not, because our motivation for such behavior will be based on the law and not on His grace.
That is why the apostle Paul kept bringing the focus back to ‘Christ and Him crucified’, he saw that unless the people knew Christ for themselves, they might as well be just following a list of rules. In His day the traditional faith of the people of Israel was all about rules, sacrifices and fulfilling expectations. He was continually challenging Christians to live differently from that culture, from a place of belief in Jesus only. He fought tooth and nail against those who added any work of man to the gospel.
If Paul was alive today I wonder if he would have something to say about 21st. century Christianity? I wonder if he would look at us and say “why have you turned the gospel into a culture, membership based on our spirituality and practice of good church works rather than the awesome good work of Jesus?”.
What does God require of me? “believe in Jesus”… the more I see Him, the more I am conformed into His likeness. Paul prayed for the Ephesian church “that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened in order that they may know the hope to which he has called them, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe”.
When I am compelled by the wonder of Him, not a list of rules, my heart soars in the pure joy of a gospel with no strings attached.