Covenants Familiar and Forsaken

It’s a great feeling to be able to enjoy something new.  A new house, a new computer, or even a new friendship.  Even if it is isn’t new, but is new to you, it can be a real blessing.  I’m enjoying the blessing of all three right now.  But I know that the new and exciting can grow normal and familiar.

So I’m struck as I read in the Old Testament and then in the New Testament about the New Covenant.  Set in the context of thousands of years of anticipation, to finally be living in the era of the New Covenant must have been very exciting!  But I suspect that I’m not the only one who sometimes takes the New Covenant for granted?

Think about the New Covenant blessings that we enjoy today, but perhaps we don’t enjoy enough. We have our sins forgiven, and there is no ongoing ritual in relation to our sin – it is dealt with.  We have hearts of flesh instead of stone.  We have the law written on our hearts instead of inscribed on stone.  We have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit – all of us believers, from the moment of new birth, unendingly!  Oh, and what about the notion of people truly “knowing the Lord”… personal, genuine relationship!  The indwelling Spirit empowers us to fulfill the “new commandment.”  Sins forgiven, indwelling Spirit, beating heart, personal relationship, love God, love others, it is all so relational and so very much, well, so alive!

The longest quote in the New Testament is about the New Covenant.  I could fill up the word count for this post with Bible references alone.  And yet how easily it becomes the Familiar Covenant for us.

To be honest, I understand the feeling of fresh fading into familiar, I go there myself all too easily.  Sins forgiven, indwelling Spirit, a heart beating for God, yes, but the pulse can drop all too easily.

What I don’t understand is when Christians seem to almost forsake it and yearn for the Old Covenant.  Why would we do that?  Nostalgia?  Misunderstanding?  Recalcifying hearts?  I suppose a retreat into the old allows for God to be kept at a safe distance, and for my spirituality to be about my own efforts . . . but why?

When he speaks of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete (Heb.8:13).  May God reignite our hearts with the thrill of the New Covenant!

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2 Responses to Covenants Familiar and Forsaken

  1. DUANE WATTS September 30, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    Yes Peter, ever since what you call the “new covenant” has begun to come alive to me (since early January), juxtaposed against my old life as a Christian: believing, but not beginning to grasp the Trinitarian Love of God, I have prayed that I would not return to the old slough. There have been days and even a week or two when things were quite bleak, and I began to “backslide” into despondency. The Lord always cycles us. I don’t doubt there are desert seasons to come. I think if we don’t know better, and the Lord seems distant to us, we can fall back into a legal framework, because there seems to be security there. I can also surmise that if one is flying high, he can also fall into a legal framework with others in order to control their ability to “break the spell”.

    I have to say, I like the practical bent of Cor Deo and Ron’s place. I like that we are talking about how we walk out that relationship with Him. I can’t think of anything I would rather do.
    Incidentally, I’m spreading the word. Since January, we are sponsoring a couple of kids through Compassion Int’l. It’s a wonderful opportunity to minister to very poor children around the world, one on one through letters and through their local church. We also have a new social network site for sponsors. We talk about the kids, and about life. So, I’ve been blogging about what the Lord has been doing in my life, how that for the first time, I really know that the Lord loves me, and why, and that it is not just me. Many of my friends there have responded positively. One friend who has been going through a particularly hard time, broke my heart when she described herself as a “seeker” (I do alot of crying over there). Many of us are Christians, but it is not required. I thought about her: “you and your family are going through such a hard time and you don’t even have the Lord?” So, I wrote her an open letter (we don’t have private messaging there), omitting her name. I told my story, the simplicity of the Gospel as I know it, plus what I’ve learned in the past 9 months: the how I can know and the why of God’s love for me. She disappeared for a week, and I thought “uh oh, I’ve offended or embarassed her” and then she came back and said the most wonderful things! She thanked everyone on OC for their love and friendship and care and she thanked me. She said that even though she went to a christian college, she did not know these things until now. Your message (The Lord’s message) has given her Jesus. I’m crying to think about it.
    I would like to gently lead some of my friends over here to get the straight skinny. Either way, I’ll keep preachin’ it. We do have a read the Bible through group, each person is on the program of their choice. Some are on a 90 day program. Some are reading through in a year. I’m slower than all ya’ll.
    Well, this fine blog looked kind of lonely, and I thought you might like to know.
    Thank you, and our Loving Lord continue to bless you and this project.

  2. Huw September 30, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    Thanks Peter. I was thinking along similar lines recently; I was struck by similar thoughts recently when reading Romans 11. As gentiles we seem to have lost the sense of privilege of being ‘grafted in’ to God’s people, we tend to think of it as our birthright in the West.

    And yes, why does the Old Covenant seem so attractive to us? My pride simply doesn’t want to me to rely on a gift, I’d much rather try and ‘pay my own way’. Grrrr.

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