May 29, 2013

Thoughts from Mark

Therefore, even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood… all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:18, 22)

Covenant.  A common word among the ancient Hebrews rarely used today.

We are saved because of a covenant.  God made a covenant with man.  This is nothing new for Him.

He made one with Noah.  Then, he made one with Abraham and carried it out in Isaac and Jacob.

Each time, blood was shed.  In death a covenant is enacted.  Without the shedding of blood, the agreement is not ratified.

Subsequently, the ancient Jews would slaughter animals, the shed blood memorializing the covenant the Lord had established.

Until Jesus.

His death, His sinless blood, became the enduring security of a final covenant He makes with man.

Fast-forward to today.  All of us who enjoy the benefits of this covenant are part of the Church He bought with His blood.  2000 years in the making, this fascinating body continues to grow and evolve.  In the evolution, some important elements are coming back to the fore.

Covenant is one of them.  The love and devotion it took to enact the covenant this Church enjoys is to be the culture in which it daily operates.

For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. (Hebrews 9:16-18)

Incredible.  By definition, a covenant is only valid when there is death.  Jesus dies, and the new covenant between God and man is enacted.

This incredible sacrifice demands a response.  One of equal value and gravity.  Yes, we die for Him.  But our “death” is displayed in a much more relevant way.

It is found in the relationship between you and I.  Since He died, I die.  I open my veins and shed my blood on your behalf.  I lay down my life for yours.  In this, I exalt Christ.

Membership is not covenant.  Occasional relationship is not covenant.  Obligation and duty is not covenant.

Honor and taking another’s bullet is covenant.  Repentance is covenant. Surrender, sacrifice and transparency is covenant.

When I open myself, I reveal all that I am.  I let you all the way in – into my heart and my life.  You can come in as far as you want.  Everything I have and I am is no longer my own.

This was the culture of the first church.  Because there was true covenant, it was not only easy, but necessary, to be together, sharing with anyone who had need.  The way they saw it, your life and the needs therein were as valid as their own.

I am to be in covenant with you.  That means that I must die to myself and live unto you for this contract to be in force.  My hopes, aspirations and vision are only valid if they benefit you.

Only dead men can be in covenant.  Their blood is the seal of that contract.  As long as either is alive, its not valid.  If one seeks his own way, covenant does not exist.

Imagine a people living like Him, not because they have to, but because they want to.  They cut covenant with one another because His love abounds making anything less seem cheap and artificial.

Does this seem an odd, impractical and almost foolish way of living?  Even as I write this, I struggle with the same thoughts.

The ways of the Lord are often foolish, even offensive, to our flesh and this world.  Covenant relationship seems as outdated as swords and shields.  But it is the way of Jesus.

If His Spirit is truly in us and among us, why would it not be so?

This is the way He lived.

This is why He died.

In Love,