In a culture where promises are easily broken or even forgotten, what would a covenant look like?
On a side note, I’ve been hearing the word “covenanted” attached to different relationship-related words ever since I came here. Covenanted friendship, covenanted life group.
I’ve been here for almost 7 years but I still don’t understand how those terms came about. Prior to coming here, I understood a covenant as one that is made between a man and God. So what does it mean in those contexts of friendships and life group?
I always understood a covenant as something more than a promise. A covenant is like if you break it, you die, and if you don’t die, it is only because of the mercy of God. Because you are in a covenant with the Almighty God who keeps covenant. Though, ideally, promises should not be broken as well. Well it’s true that as humans we fail, but this does not give us the licence to take our covenants lightly either.
If a covenant is meant to be kept, how should I interpret relationships that almost vanish once we are done with a particular life group, or broken friendships in church? Do I take this as the fallibility of humans – though a teacher I’m acquainted with would argue that if it was possible for Jesus Christ to resist temptation, we could too – or do I take this as there’s so such terms?
I have no idea how long I spent laying wide awake on the bed last night considering this thing about covenant. I thought about putting on a ring again, this time round no longer just a symbol of sexual purity. I took it off a year and a half ago because it occurred to me that waiting for that ring to be exchanged on the wedding day has two flaws in it – 1, it is almost like telling God, “I keep my purity and one day You bring to me a good husband okay?”, which God had never signed such a deal with all of us and 2, the strive for purity should not just be restricted to a sexual one, but also in our thoughts, our motives, etc.
This time round, perhaps, a reminder of who I am even as changes take place in my life (e.g. moving between jobs, meeting new people with different value systems, etc.). I hope to not be obssessed with the pursuit of wealth and influence, to the point where I hurt people or that I live to simply achieve more for my own well-being. The temptation, to be honest, is not absent from my life. I was shocked when I realised I kept counting how I could make more dollars and cents though that did not make sense to me. The capability to manipulate is something which I know well enough as well; it has been God that I keep myself accountable to concerning this part of me. The ring, if I do get it, shall be a symbol to remind me to keep my heart, my thoughts, my motives, pure and genuine. A reminder rather than a covenant because, I have no faith in myself haha.
I also thought about how if one day I have a chance to public speak again, promises would be something I would love to address. Emotionally charged after an inspiring sermon, we lift our hands at the invitation of the preacher to make a covenant with God. How many of us actually give a thought to the covenant in the next few days? “I will always be there for you” – a cliché I resist from saying because I simply can’t be always there for anyone – yes even a spouse – and neither can you. Only God can. Resist because sometimes, you really feel like writing that in a birthday card or send it in a text to comfort a friend, that sorta thing. (So I write about God’s faithfulness in that person’s life instead haha) So unromantic, I know, I know. But I would rather work towards trustworthiness, that when I say yes to you, you know that I mean yes and I try my best to keep to it.
It is not the fallibility of man that I’m against. It is the lack of weight that our promises/covenants carry. That, the intention of keeping it – whereby it is no doubt especially effortful at times – is often absent.
At the end of this, I’m still curious and would wish to know, how did the terms ‘covenanted friendship’ and ‘covenanted life group’ come about? Truth be told, I’m somewhat disillusioned at this point in my life. If not for God, I will be out of a church.