First published in The Foresee – June 2016:
Over the last month, I have been reading and studying the covenants. I remember my Old Testament professor in seminary becoming so animated when we worked through this topic. I knew as a young seminarian that the covenants were special, but my personal fondness for them has only grown over many years of walking with and serving Christ. It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of the early covenants (I’m reminded of a great teaching on suzerain-vassal treaties) and completely miss the point. The covenants God made with his people were not just a set of rules and expected outcomes, but were the means to a faithful and righteous relationship with him.
Relationship is such a simple, foundational idea when it comes to the Christian Faith – and yet it is the one thing so many of us struggle to build and maintain. We do not primarily practice a religion, but we walk in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Henry Blackaby reminds us that God wants to have a relationship with us that is both real and personal.(1) Relationship takes work: work to establish, work to preserve and a lot of work to repair when things go awry. God has always desired a relationship with us, and has laid out the “best practices” for us to enjoy it.
When I consider the second item in our CCCC Statement of Faith, “We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” I am again reminded why relationship is such a priority for our God. From eternity past to eternity future, our triune God is in relationship! The love, harmony and unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is perfect and perpetual. And our God shares all of this with us, his creation! With David we can sing, “From everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember his precepts” (Psalm 103:17-18). With Jeremiah we can declare, “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3)!
The richness of my own walk with Christ rests not on the rituals of a religion, but in my daily pursuit of a relationship with him. Relationship is the basis of all ministry. Relationship is the target of the gospel’s reconciling power. And when we are in a right relationship with God and with each other, we begin to share in what our triune God has experienced for all eternity.
(1) Blackaby, Henry and Claude V. King. Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God. Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press, 1990.