Recently I have thought about covenant relationships and the new covenant that Christ has established with us and the Church. Pastor Mike McKinney and I served together on a pastoral team which strived for a New Testament expression of faith and practices. We would sit down and talk for hours together about the Kingdom of God and the dynamics of community life that Christ so desired amongst his children. We desired that the Church would come into a revelation of covenant lifestyle within the church and would begin to practically walk out the “one-anothers” of scripture.
What does it mean to be in covenant relationship with God? It means that we have repented of our sin and entered into thekingdomofGodthrough faith in Jesus as Savior. It means that we have willingly and whole-heartedly surrendered our will to the will and purposes of God. Out of gratitude for the gift of eternal life, we submit ourselves as servants of Jesus. A covenant is different than a contract. A contract focuses upon the exchange of goods or services. A covenant focuses upon relationship. It involves a commitment to another and service for the benefit of another. Marriage is the best human example of a covenant relationship.
Marriage is a voluntary covenant relationship, but once it is entered into, marriage involves certain responsibilities, privileges, and blessings. Marriage is a covenant because it involves the whole being, especially the attitude of one’s heart. It is rooted in a commitment to love, honor, and serve your spouse. It means putting your spouse’s interest above your own.
Likewise in the Church we enter also into a covenant relationship with one another as Christ has prescribed through the teachings of the “one anothers”. This is something that we do not hear much teaching on, and sadly, most of our Church gatherings resemble that of the contract agreement of “what can you do for me?” But if we enter a covenant relationship to commit to love, respect, honor and serve one another, and if we take upon ourselves the responsibility for the betterment of the community, so that my presence, talents, gifts and resources are made available to help build up and encourage the community which I have committed to help become more like Christ, how different the world would view the Church. This was what Mike McKinney had in his heart; to walk in covenant relationships. Mike strived to build into someone else’s life the quality of Christlike character that would glorify Jesus Christ. I saw so many times Mike going out on a limb giving someone help or the benefit of good will, desiring to see them succeed in the Kingdom of God and life. He would tell me if I must err, I will err on the side of grace. I miss my brother this season but I’m thankful that the Holy Spirit gave me the opportunity to have a covenant relationship with this man and walk in the reality of the “one another’s” of theKingdom ofGod. May our lives exemplify the humility of character, the heart that surrenders, and the hands and feet that assume the responsibility of the gospel of Christ.