The prophet Jeremiah in chapter 31, verses 31-34, announces a “New Covenant” between God and his chosen people:
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt — a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”
The meaning of a covenant is a mutual commitment between two parties, each of whom share a binding agreement with an unbreakable responsibility and commitment to each other.
In his 12th chapter or Romans, Paul describes our part as Christians in the covenant relationship with God and our responsibility to one another in the covenant community of faith which is the church:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God —what is good and acceptable and perfect. Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
As the hymn writer put it, “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord. The Christian’s part in the covenant relationship is our undivided commitment to Christ and his body, the church.”
Walter Brueggemann in his book of devotions, “Gift and Task,” offers this prayer:
“Lord Jesus, Lord of the church, we give you thanks for your place in the church. Let us be led by your spirit to more engaged giving and receiving with our sisters and brothers in the church. In your name, Amen.”
David Tritenbach is a retired Presbyterian minister.