Contract or Covenant?

I would like you to think back to the first car you ever purchased.  In many instances, one would have to take out a loan from a bank or family member to acquire the vehicle.  If that was the case, what were some of the parts of the conversation that stood out about the money being lent to you?  More than likely there was a total amount with, perhaps, an interest rate that added a chunk of change on top of the asking price of the vehicle.  There of course was a timeline in which the principle and the interest were to be paid in full.  Last but not least, there was a spot for both parties to sign to validate that there was indeed an agreement.  Would you call this a contract or a covenant?

Now think about your spouse for a moment.  Remember the day you got married[1] and all the planning leading up to that big day?  Try and think of how focused and gung-ho you were to make this day a reality.  If you are like most Americans, you spent tens of thousands of dollars, hours, days, weeks, months and sometimes years all for a series of events that last a total of four hours.  Why would someone in their right mind do this?  Some may say it’s foolishness, while others may say that it is because they are in a loving relationship and would do anything and everything for their loved one.  Would you call this a contract or covenant?

Let’s fast forward a little bit.  It’s Sunday morning.  You wake up early and plan your day out.  You think about what you’re going to do for the day and what you will wear to fit that event.  Of course you like to look good in public, so you decide to get your best polo on or the prettiest dress you own to go to church in.  You get there a little before the service starts to make sure you get your usual seat.  You take the time to read the latest happenings in the bulletin from the friendly usher who has on his or her usual smile.  Now is the time where we exchange the “peace of the Lord[2]” to others in the sanctuary.  You shake the hands of one to ten people, perhaps making eye contact or asking an open-ended question.  Time’s up!  You sit back down and go through the neatly organized worship practices that you grew up with and are still living out today.  Would you call this a contract or covenant?

The point of this exercise is to unpack the heart[3] of the matter.  The part that many believers in Christ, new and life-long deal with is seeing the Christian life as either a contract or covenant.  Following Christ’s example as He walked the earth can be seen as a contract and even lived as one, but the spirit behind what it means to be a disciple is far from the opposite.  Going to church[4] for an hour a week isn’t intended to be a box that gets checked off your daily/weekly list.  Going to church is meant for Christian community and living in such a way that says that you love because Christ first loved you.  That’s the first major hurdle moving discipleship from contract to covenant.  We don’t earn our salvation[5], but we get to express how thankful and honored we are to have such a phenomenal gift from God by our outward expression of service to others.

In today’s world of social media where the focus is on self and how one portrays one’s self on a large and public level, we are taken away from focusing on the well-being of others and putting the microscope of importance on ourselves[6].  This is counter to what Christ has been calling us to do for thousands of years.  I’m writing this as my article to help others see how today’s culture has taken the covenantal relationship that we have with God and turned it into a contractual agreement that is highly relative when it comes to what we expect God to come through with for us.  My hope and prayer is that we see every day as a gift from God and that we look for one person to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with as we look to lead just one more person to Christ so He can save them from the same sin that brought us eternal punishment.  Thanks be to God that we have a loving and perfect Lord who sees the covenant that He had with Noah[7], Abraham[8], Isaac and Jacob[9] and continues to be faithful to it today with us, even though we are unfaithful.  We are blessed to be a blessing to others[10].  Let’s live out that covenantal Good News of Jesus Christ each and every day of our life so that our actions will boast in the Lord and what He’s doing through us.

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[1] Genesis 2:23; [2] Romans 16:16; [3] 1 Samuel 16:7; [4] Acts 2:42-47; [5] Romans 3:23; [6] 2 Timothy 4:3-4;

[7] Genesis 6:18; [8] Genesis 15; [9] Exodus 2:24; [10] Genesis 12:2

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