a new covenant . . . and why does this matter?


Jer. 31:31-34
For Sunday, March 29, 2009
Fifth Sunday in Lent

‘Covenant’ is not a word you are likely to hear discussed on the Sunday morning talk shows. The concerns of our contemporary world are more around words like ‘economy’, ‘terror’, ‘environment’, or ‘health care’. Yet for God, clearly the concern of ‘covenant’ is central. What does it mean? Why does it matter so much for God? … And should it mean anything for us? If so, what?

A ‘Covenant’ is something which binds two parties together. For example, the marriage covenant binds husband to wife. Through the prophet Jeremiah God says, “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel.” In other words, God is putting into place a new agreement binding Him to his people. How would this binding agreement be different than the one He made initially?

A ‘Covenant’ is something which binds two parties together. For example, a marriage covenant binds husband to wife. Through the prophet Jeremiah God says, “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel.” In other words, God is putting into place a new agreement binding Him to his people. How would this binding agreement be different than the one He made initially? It would be different in that rather than writing his law on tablets of stone God would now be writing his law on the very hearts and minds of his people. Where his people had failed to keep the Old Covenant, they could not fail to keep the New Covenant, because it would be written into their very beings.

Christians, as people of God under this New Covenant, therefore cannot fail. “Wait a minute,” you might respond, “I’m a Christian, and I fail all the time, and certainly most if not all the Christians I’ve ever met have the same problem.” Let’s be careful here to remember the kind of failure that God has in mind, namely, the breaking of that which binds God to his people. The key difference between the Old and New Covenant is that while the Old contained within it conditions for the bound people to fulfill, the New Covenant has none of these. Everything is on God’s side of the ledger.

Here then is the so what. First, if you really are a Christian, enjoy the security of God’s binding commitment to you. Yes, you will fail morally, spiritually, personally. Yet you cannot fail in terms of the covenant, because God has bound you to Him. Therefore, give him all of your life that you might bring glory to His marvelous name. You don’t have to be perfect: you just have to be moving in the direction of God’s glory.

So why then is ‘covenant’ such an important idea to God? It’s because he is all about relationship. We actually understand this without realizing it. For us, what is more important then our relationships with mother, father, brother, sister, best friend? Ultimately, very little if anything.

What then if we made what is most important to God most important to us? What if we lived in a way that reflected our desire to honor the covenant God has made unconditionally with us?
I have so committed myself today. It’s tremendously freeing, empowering, and peaceful. Care to join me? He loves you. He’s here for us. Praise the Lord.

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