Before the start of this tour I had been a guest at the National Prayer Breakfast for Wales, in Cardiff, where the main speaker was a man called Roel Kuiper, a senator from the Dutch Parliament.
He made a fascinating comment about the difference between contract and covenant. His point was that most business transactions are based on contract, but that Christians should be living by covenant.
So for our band Bible study and discussion last weekend we focused on Romans 4.13-25 from the Message translation, which includes these words:
If those who get what God gives them
only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the
right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and
turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a
business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed
lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be
able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t
break it. Romans 4.14-15 The Message.
Contract is legalistic and self-serving, whereas covenant is relational and values the interests of the other person. In our study we explored this further especially how it related to the way God deals with us, the way we relate to other people, the way we relate to everyone else on a tour, and especially how we do business in Christian music. It sparked off a lot of honest appraisal of our personal mind-sets, a realization that this was a very difficult but necessary area to explore, and was exceptionally timely in regard to one or two 'tour issues' that had arisen. As far as the Bible passage goes:
that the essence of covenant is promise. What can we do to respond to the
promise of God? Only one thing. We are to believe the promise and consider
God’s Word trustworthy. We are to consider God’s Word so trustworthy that we
step out to act on what he says.It
was this faith that saved Abraham, long before either circumcision or law was
introduced. It is faith alone—faith in Jesus, the seal of God’s new
covenant—that saves us today. That new covenant is an
unconditional divine promise to unfaithful Israel to forgive her sins and establish
his relationship with her on a new basis by writing his law “on their hearts”—a
covenant of pure grace.
Most of us want to treat other people from the point of view of contract, but want people to treat us from covenant.