Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Covenant Relationship

God deals with people through the use of covenants. Carl Ketcherside in his book The Death of the Custodian wrote:
The fact is that God has chosen to relate to man on the basis of covenants. He is a covenant-making God. No one who ignores this fact will ever grasp God’s plan and purpose in any age (page 15).
I want to throw this idea out to you: We have a covenant relationship with God and not just a personal relationship with God. Yes, I understand we view marriage as a covenant relationship and that relationship is also a personal relationship, but God’s covenant is not just for an individual person, but it is for a people. 1 Peter 2:9 reminds us:
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light (NLT).
This means we are in this together. We have a responsibility to and for each other. None of us should try to walk the journey of faith alone. It is important that we help each other as much as possible because our lives are linked (whether we like it or not).

I bring this up because I think our focus on a “personal” relationship with God sidetracks us from what God has really called us to be—a covenant people. Leon Morris in The Atonement wrote:
It mattered intensely to Old Testament Israel that the nation was in covenant relationship with the one and only God. All its thinking and living revolved around this fact (pg. 22).
Sure Israel is not a great example of covenant faithfulness, but I still have to wonder what the church would be like if our thinking and living revolved around the reality that we are in a covenant relationship with God. Should this reality (being in a covenant relationship with God) change our thinking and the way we “do church”?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

personal relationships are warm and fuzzy. You can have one without going to church.

--Hawkeye Gold

Katherine said...

Yup, that American "it's just me and Jesus" attitude. I agree Paul. Jesus doesn't offer independent study classes

Paul said...

Katherine you are right. It is precisely that type of thinking that I wanted to address here. As I develop this thought what I want to avoid is going to the other extreme as say it has nothing to do with us personal. The covenant is still entered into on a personal level, we experience some of the covenant blessing personally, and while we might be able to influence others the only person we have control over is ourselves.

Anonymous said...

"We have a covenant relationship with God and not a personal relationship with God."

Why are they mutually exclusive? Why not both?

Paul said...

Ultimately, as I pointed out, God's covenant is directed at a people, the Church, and not individual persons. It is also important to remember, as I pointed out in my previous comment, that there is a personal aspect of this covenant relationship. In addition it should be noted that this post is just be thinking "out loud" and should not be taken as my final thoughts on the matter.

Nate said...

Paul, you are a heretic. Plain and simple.

There, I said it! ;)

Nate

Paul said...

Nate,

Being called a heretic by you just doesn't have the same punch. Nice try though.

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