Give It Up!
Recently, I heard a minister teaching on covenant. He explained that the New Covenant in Christ was all on Jesus and there was nothing for us to do but to receive God’s grace. I applaud this minister in his desire to persuade people to receive the free gift of God’s salvation. You nor I can add to anything Jesus has done to make us “new creatures in Christ”. I cannot receive the Holy Spirit by being a good boy. However, is the understanding of a covenant relationship one sided?
What caused Abraham to be willing to offer Isaac on the altar when God spoke to him about sacrificing his son? Why was there no hesitation? Could it be that when Abraham entered the blood covenant with God, that he knew what that meant? He recognized a covenant established by God meant that all God had was at his disposal. The God of heaven would withhold nothing from his covenant man. However, that man, in this sovereign, word, agreement, was also expected to give his all. That is what a covenant is; it is an agreement between two or more people that they withhold nothing from each other.
Some might argue that a covenant with God IS one sided because God is the one that has something to give. That is only partially true. What we can give is ourselves. We can give our life to Jesus which will equate to being willing to do whatever he says.
Jesus knew what this meant. In the upper room, he cut the covenant with God when he drank of the cup with his disciples. When the moment came to offer his life as a sacrifice, he asked if he could take a pass on the suffering on the cross. However, he declared that it was not his will to be done, it must be God’s will. Why did he commit to that? He had already drunk of the cup of covenant a few moments earlier; there was no turning back. He was in covenant with God his Father and if God required his sacrificial death, there was no option but to give his all to the one with whom he was in covenant.
Some still may say, “Well, that was Jesus.” Yes, that was Jesus. What about his followers. All of them died a violent death (except John), due to their covenant relationship with their heavenly Father. Why would they give up their lives rather than deny the call? They knew what they signed up for! This call was not so they could just have a happy life. It was a call to give their all for the one who washed their sin away and filled them with his Holy Spirit!
They were not earning their salvation, they were living their salvation. They were bought with a price; they did not belong to themselves.
Wow! What a departure in our American Christian culture from the culture of covenant. It is scary to think that in many of our thought processes as a Christian we believe we owe God nothing. Some might even declare it blasphemous to think that a Christian would be compelled to give everything because they might consider that person is trying to add to the great salvation. However, we must get this right. We are not adding to this great salvation, we are responding to this great salvation!
In American society, we see the break down in our culture. We many times see little strenuous desire for God because “grace” makes it not necessary. This lack of hunger in the church affects our homes, cities, nation, etc… We observe it in marriages that dissolve because…”well, she/he doesn’t make me happy anymore.” Fathers are absent after procreation because of the inconvenience of settling down to a family. Many women end up mothering alone due to a lack of understanding that raising a family ought to be a covenant relationship with a man of God who would give up his life for her. Businesses that had more on their heart than just money, but wanted the best for their employees, might just see their bottom line go up when they infect their employees to be loyal and honest due to their sincere interest in them.
If a covenant culture could be established in our beloved country, many social ills would go away. Real commitment; a covenant relationship with God and others, might just give us a taste of heaven before it arrives!