The Covenant: What is our intent?

March 7, 2013 | 11 a.m.

Views | Craig Henkel for The Clarion

The Covenant: What is our intent?

Henkel reminds us that the real covenant begins with our Savior, nailed to a cross.

The Covenant is not wrong; however, I question the purpose.

I see an Old Testament approach to a New Testament promise – a New Testament promise in which Jesus only gives us one overriding law: to love God and love people. According to this one law, everything else falls underneath.

I see a list of rules that hinders authenticity and creates a scale of hierarchy. Was this the purpose? Of course not. But there is a cycle of thought in which covenant breakers and covenant keepers are tainted by the lie that one is “better” than the other. When does this cycle stop? But, I might add, are there really any covenant keepers anyway? What I mean is keepers of the only true Covenant that matters – Christ’s Covenant with us. Do we not all fall short in matters of our Covenant relationship with our King, Jesus Christ? So what does this mean? It means that whether a person simply gossips, swears, consumes alcohol or has frequent sex before marriage, we are all the same in regard to sin. We are all the same not by what we do, but by what He did.

I find students following the covenant not necessarily because of their love for Christ, but so that something doesn’t get taken away. It is followed not out of love, but out of fear of losing something – a fear produced not just by losing a spot on the team, but by losing self-image and respect from judgmental eyes. Shouldn’t I rather be concerned that when I break the Covenant, Christ’s Covenant, that I am turning my back on the one true Love that never fails me? To have legalistic “punishment” for breaking Bethel’s covenant would be to place a grading system on our sin.

Something like gossip is often generated from the principle that someone is less, due to wrongdoing. This can be detrimental to a community. Gossip, or breaking the covenant, sometimes results from the very thing we’re trying to destroy.

Let us be authentic for a minute. On judgment day, it will not matter whether you break Bethel’s covenant or not. And that’s beautiful. That is what Christ’s freedom refers to: the freedom from sin due to grace. What will matter is your heart. It is a scary thought, but might Bethel’s covenant hinder us from seeing what the real Covenant is? I’m talking about the Covenant relationship that has open arms without having to earn it ... a gift – without having to pay a fine or a duty in order to be granted grace, without having a tally count of how many “crimes” you have committed.

I’m not saying Bethel is bad, or the covenant itself is bad. It is how the covenant is being both implied and applied. Bethel is an incredible school, but to say that it does not have any flaws would be to say that Bethel has some sort of divinity. Flaws are good; flaws create growth. Think about what our relationships would look like if everyone were flawless. If that were the case, there would be an overwhelming amount of constraint, because mistakes tend to be the best way to relate to one another, and the best way to show and receive forgiveness. This is an individual battle, but it is up to the community to tackle.

Forgiveness has been demonstrated in the most beautiful way possible, and it begins with three nails and two pieces of lumber.


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