Random Blog Clay Feet: June 07, 2008
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Saturday, June 07, 2008

My Part in the Covenant

I've been thinking about covenant the past couple days and some of the things I have learned about how covenants operate. One of the most important aspects of covenant is the unconditionalness of how they are observed. Unlike the contracts that we are so used to thinking about, covenants obligate the participates irregardless of the performance of the other party. The ones who have entered into covenant relationship are bound by their word and their very life to honor the terms of the covenant no matter what the disposition of the other party is or becomes. They promise to keep their obligations within the covenant even if the other party ignores or even turns hostile toward them. For a covenant is not based on mutual performance but on personal integrity completely separate from anyone else's performance or integrity.

Given this context it is extremely reassuring to study and understand the terms of the covenant that God has with His children, especially those who intentionally enter into the covenant with Him themselves. This gives us the assurance that we so desperately crave that our God will never renege on any of His promises to us no matter how much we think we deserve or fail to deserve His blessings. This does not mean that there are no conditions to some of the things He has promised us, but particularly the attitude and desires of God's heart toward us are never affected by our performance or lack thereof.

There is such a thing as removing ourselves from the covenant relationship that God has with us, but the results of breaking a covenant is always death. And if I think about it in the big picture that only makes sense, for to cut off relationship with the only Source of life in the universe can only result in the loss of life. But that is still not God's desire for us but will only happen because He respects our freedom and desires un-coerced love above all things.

Because of the nature of covenant relationships I can rest in confidence that God will always be working for my best good no matter what circumstances seem to indicate. I can know, in spite of apparent contrary “evidence”, that God is working everything out for my best good and for His glory in all things pertaining to my life. God has committed Himself to me in a covenant-type relationship not based on the whimsical nature of contract law based on performance. This means that even when I make mistakes or loose my head at times and embarrass or dishonor Him before others, He is still committed to my restoration and transformation as long as I allow Him to draw me back into His more perfect will.

These are all concepts that my mind and heart are still trying to grasp and internalize. It is a wonderful and refreshing truth that gives far more stability to my spiritual life than the kind of conditional love in religion that I lived for much of my life. But there is another side to this covenant that has been coming to my attention the last couple of days that is just as important to think about – but not using the contract-type thinking that is so easy to sneak into our logic.

Because I am in covenant relationship with my Creator and Redeemer that holds Him bound to me with obligations not tied to my performance, the very same principles of covenant also apply to me. So what does that implicate?

I am also bound to adopt an attitude of trust in my covenant partner irregardless of what His assumed performance seems to be in any particular moment or day. Because participating in a covenant is NEVER predicated on performance or contract, I must learn to never base my opinion about God or how He feels about me by the assumptions that I may draw from the circumstances I find myself in. I have noticed that this is one of the greatest problems that we humans have to deal with. Billions of people form their opinions about God based on what is going on in their life or what is happening around them instead of believing and trusting in what God Himself says about His attitude toward us.

Our picture of God is formed by how our parents treated us, our bosses, our political leaders and all others who exercise authority over us. We base our opinions about God on how well off we are financially or how our emotions feel when we participate in religious activities or just living our life. We form opinions about God and judge Him based on how often and accurately He jumps to meet our demands in prayer with little latitude for His superior view of life and our real needs. But in doing these things we are imposing our own cravings and selfish desires into our picture of God and are really trying to form Him in our own image.

So when God does not perform the way we want Him to we react in ways that violate the covenant. We sulk and think that God doesn't care about us very much or we think He is mad at us. Or we think that when things seem to be going well – according to our measurements of good – that we must be doing the right things because somehow we deserve the “blessings” that we are enjoying. Or we may even put a more pious front on it and take pride in our humility and say all the right religious words and immerse ourselves in religious activities and think that we are now ready to be saved in heaven. But what does this all have to do with our covenant with God?

It is starting to become a little more clear to me that my part in this covenant has a lot more to do with choosing to trust in the goodness of God Himself irregardless of circumstances than it has to do with my spiritual or religious performances in the external realm. When I indulge in doubt about His good intentions toward me and refuse to let go of the lies about God that have so long infected my thinking, I am compromising and abusing the covenant relationship that I have with my Creator. And when I try to trust to any degree on anything that I do as a reason for God to love me and save me from sin, then I am trying to have a contract relationship with God instead of trusting in a covenant relationship with Him.

It is true that certain blessings are based on coming into line with certain conditions so that we can enjoy the benefits of those blessings. But this has nothing whatsoever to do with the character of God and His feelings toward us. God is constant in His attitude and character and is always perfect love, compassion, mercy and justice. And while I may need to comply with certain conditions to enjoy certain blessings promised within this relationship just as a child must exhibit certain levels of maturity to be trusted with certain privileges, my position in the family of God and God's feelings and attitudes toward me are not based on the performance of those conditions.

What I am realizing is that I need to more aggressively challenge my feelings of distrust or my fears of condemnation in my relationship to God. Those things are symptoms of a contract mentality and immaturity, and they will always undermine my obligations to keep my part of the covenant. For just as God has committed Himself unconditionally to being real and taking care of me with love and to protect my heart and soul, I too am obligated to unconditionally trust Him and refuse to believe any longer the lies about Him that Satan has so filled the world with and that has terribly distorted my mental pictures of Him.

I give Satan advantage over me when I base my opinions about God on the circumstances in my life. For when I do that then all Satan has to do to keep me believing lies about God is to keep changing my circumstances, either for evil or for good. He can keep my perception of God on puppet strings manipulated by demons that can make Him look good or bad depending on how I feel at the moment. This keeps me believing that God is somewhat arbitrary or fickle, another popular lie that most of us still believe. This is why it is so important to begin accepting God's word about Himself in place of my circumstances as the basis to form my opinions of His feelings about me.

So what I am sensing is my own need to more consistently perceive God based most importantly on His objective revelations about Himself from His word and interpreted to my heart by His Spirit. Then I need to begin to view all of my circumstances in the light of that Word as well as denying my flesh's doubts about His intentions toward me. I have the obligation under the covenant to challenge every assumption that puts God in a negative light in my heart and seek for more consistent and positive perceptions of God in what is happening to me. I must start to focus more on the wonders of creation and foster appreciation for the blessings I do enjoy instead of dwelling on the pain and suffering that may be in my life at any point in time.

This does not mean that I am to become fake and deny that I have suffering or questions. It means that I choose to believe that God is not afraid of my questions and that I will not base my opinions about Him on the fickleness of circumstances in my life. I hate it when people misjudge me based on what they believe about circumstances without allowing me to define my real feelings for them. And the same applies to my relationship with God. I must allow Him the freedom to interpret circumstances based on the higher truth of His real character and not allow circumstances to define my beliefs about Him.