Noah, Meet Jacob.
1) Someone who believes in a god or Ultimate Reality other than HaShem, the God of Israel, or in no god, or who just doesn't know what to believe, can be a very fine person, according to the Torah. The righteous people of all nations and religions "have a place in the world-to-come" [everlasting life].
What is righteousness? Doing the opposite of what the Noahide laws forbid.
- Not just avoiding murder, but saving the life in danger.
- Not just avoiding stealing, but giving charitably.
- Not just avoiding injustice, but affirmatively striving for justice.
- Not just avoiding sexual immorality, but making family-life wholesome.
- Not just refraining from cruelly inflicting pain on food animals but ensuring their decent treatment.
- Not just avoiding idolatry and sacrilege, but making one's own God (or one's 'ultimate values') glorious to others.
2) Someone who accepts HaShem as one's God - as the one and only God - belongs to the same faith community as Israel. But one need not convert to Judaism to belong to that communion. Beyond accepting a belief-system, conversion to Judaism means joining the Jewish people, like Ruth, in the Bible:
"Wherever you go, I will go where you go; where you live, I will live; your people shall be my people," etc. (Ruth 1:16)
3) That's a lot more than God asks of Noahides, or non-Jews. It's clear from the Bible that He wants every soul to realize that only He is God. But Noahides have much more freedom than Jews do when it comes to honoring HaShem.
The Bible speaks of the prophet Elisha's encounter with a Syrian, Na'aman, who has finally "discovered" HaShem (2 Kings 5), but who still has to "bow in the House of Rimon [an idol]." Elisha tells him lech l'shalom, "go towards peace" - a very literal translation. What Elisha's really saying, translating shalom to bring out its meaning of perfection and completeness, as well as peace: always go towards HaShem's peace and His perfection; always strive to get closer to HaShem.
Hillel, the great sage (a contemporary of Jesus; some of the Jesus stories of Christianity are based on Hillel's), put the same principle in another way when, asked to define Israel's religion to a mocking questioner: " 'Love your neighbor as yourself' (Leviticus 19:18). What is hateful to you, do not do unto another. That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary. Now, go and study it." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)
Our book, Rainbow Covenant, the information provided on this website, and everything from our First Covenant Community, offers that exact opportunity: to go, now, and study it.
Happy is he who comes to the Hereafter possessed of learning.