Contract or Covenant?
Read: Matthew 26:26-29; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 12:2
In January of this year, my husband and I signed a contract for a home improvement project. At that time, we were told that it would be several months before the work could be done. That was fine with us, and we were glad this week, when the work was completed. I have been thinking about how structured contracts truly are. Both parties agree to stipulations, resulting in money being exchanged and work being done. We didn't interact much with the workers as they buzzed in and out doing their jobs, and I never felt that we should sit down and have coffee together. Why? Because we had an agreement for a specific job to be done, and since the work has been completed, unless there is a problem during the warranty period, we won't interact again. We will most likely never know them, nor will they become truly acquainted with us.
I'm thankful that I don't have a contract with God. Instead, all of us who belong to the Savior are in a covenant relationship with Him, Matthew 26:26-29. I had nothing to do with the terms of this covenant. Instead, it was in the heart of the Triune God before the world was even created, Titus 1:2. The covenant was not secured by anything that I could contribute; instead, the precious blood of Jesus was the currency that brought about the covenant God held out to mankind, including me, 1 Peter 1:18-19. I entered into this most wondrous covenant with empty hands held out and the knowledge that Jesus' provision received, made me His daughter, John 1:11-12. That decision is just the tip of the iceberg concerning the reasons I'm thankful to be in a covenant relationship with the Lord because receiving what God did for me is the unfolding of a relationship with Him.
Unlike signing a contract which ends upon the completion of specific work, God's covenant brings about an on-going and ever-growing relationship with the Creator/Redeemer. God actually comes to live in and through us, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Galatians 2:20. We do life with Him, and He sustains, encourages and empowers us as we come to know Him and make Him known to others. How might this look in a practical sense on an ordinary Saturday?
For one thing, a covenant relationship means that I can tell the Lord anything. That includes the joys that only He knows about and the weariness that only He can understand. In other words, we can be human around the Lord. He wants us to talk with Him, and He wants to give us wisdom as we listen to Him. We call Him Abba. It is an intimate and tender word that Jewish children call their fathers. Like Daddy. It is not merely a picture of closeness as we think of it. The word also speaks of the expectation of the child being obedient.
Jesus spoke of that kind of close and obedient relationship in John 15 when He said that we are His friends. Those who do what He commands. Intimacy and obedience are sweet parts of a covenant relationship with the Lord. How different this relationship looks than a list of rules that must be checked off. Instead, our relationship with the Shepherd is one where He leads, and we willingly follow. Isn't it wonderful that Jesus doesn't say that certain things in our relationship with Him aren't covered under the warranty? There is no part of our lives that He doesn't want to be a part of, and the passing of time will never diminish His relationship with us. He wants us to really get to know Him day by day the way we come to know those around us. We each have stories and special times when Jesus showed us little glimpses of His love. Times when He made Himself known in a special way. Sweet benefits of being in a covenant with Him.
Let's highlight one other difference between a contract and the covenant Jesus has made possible. He endured the shame of the cross to obtain the joy of being in relationship with us, Hebrews 12:2. Sometimes the world dishes out lots of reasons to make any of us feel unwanted or unloved. The truth that Jesus endured the shame of the cross because of His love for us can fill in those jagged places. He chose us before the creation of the world to be in relationship with Him, Ephesians 1:3-5.
Lord, Thank You that You want to walk with us and talk with us, and You want to remind us that we are Your own. Help us tell others that You have provided a New Covenant and what that means to us.