You Don’t Need a Covenant…
Bet you thought I wasn’t going to post today? Didn’t you? I bet you were all, “Nah, Gabe has written something every day this week. There’s no way he has more thoughts.” And I’m all,
I apologize. That was unnecessary. Forgive me.
Moving on. There’s a story I want to tell you about a man. No, not Jesus. Well, not at first. This guy’s name is Shep Gordon. He is the subject of a documentary produced by Mike Meyers. Yes, that Mike Meyers.
Shep was a music producer and agent throughout the 70s and 80s, film producer in the 80s, a chef in the 90s, and from the scope of the documentary, an all-around nice guy. He represented Alice Cooper. And that, in fact, is what I want to tell you about.
Shep and Alice have a particularly peculiar relationship and one that might mean more to my Nashvillians than to any of the rest of my audience.
We started off so early in life, and we failed so many times and forgave each other and supported each other during the failures. We never had a contract. He’s never asked me, “What am I making tonight?” Ever. And I’ve never said to him, “How are you going to sing the songs?” We do our jobs. We trust each other. It is a remarkable relationship.
That’s positively unheard of in the music business. It’s insane. Why? Because even with contracts, people regularly stab each other in the back, the front, and sneakily from the church-created side-hug.
And no, I’m not here to tell you music contracts or contracts in general are evil and should be rejected. I think they are part of wise business in the world we live in. But it’s more than remarkable to me that Shep and Alice have had a relationship spanning decades, several very successful decades for them both, and have never felt the need to sign anything legal. They just honor each other.
This is the exception in the world and is far from the rule.
So getting back to my clickbait title.
You don’t need a covenant… if you’re God.
I sense the cumulative gasp of all my covenantal theology brethren. But before you go clutching at your pearls, I want you to do a little thought experiment and understand this with your imagination, not just with your systematic theology.
God is good. This is a statement of incontrovertible fact. He is always good, right, and perfect. Everything He does is too. He’s literally so good, everything He does is the very definition of good.
But one of the worst things we do when we think about God, or study about God, or try to imagine the nature of God, is to define things He created in raw, human ways. Covenant is one of those things. I remember as a child listening to Pentecostal preachers butcher Old Testament theology. Even so, I recall one man, at one time, going on about the fact that human beings tend to mistakenly draw an equal sign between the words contract and covenant.
Contract says, “We agree that we will do whatever is in this statement so long as the other fulfills their side.”
Covenant says, “I will perform whatever I swear to do, even if you don’t.”
See the difference there? So if God swears a covenant, and He certainly has, then He has sworn that He will do what He said He would do… even if we don’t. So then… why? Why would God swear a covenant? Why would a God need a covenant? In short, He doesn’t.
He doesn’t need anything, and a covenant fits within that anything. He doesn’t need to enter into such an agreement with fallen creatures.
…Wait for it…
But we do need it. Do you see that? We need more than just a contract. A contract is shallow Law. A contract is fulfilled or not fulfilled based on the performance of one or another. And if I approach God and say, “I have fulfilled my end,” I’m a liar from the beginning. If I approach God and say, “I will fulfill my end,” I am liar almost immediately. A contract, in that definition I gave above, would be entirely worthless to a sinful and fallen creation. In fact, if that’s all I have, I give up now.
Like, right now. Because I know it’s futile. I know it can’t and will not save me. I know, in point of fact, it will damn me harder than if I just turn my back and refuse any such contract. If I tell God, “Let’s make a deal,” I better have something god-like in my hand. Last time I checked, my hand was empty.
But a covenant? A covenant, where the only good Being in all the universe has sworn to uphold His end knowing full-well that I cannot and will not? Where do I sign?
My trust in Jesus is that covenant. Not my works. Not my ability to fulfill anything. My faith in the fact that I am the weakest side of this arrangement. What mercy is it that?! What scandal is that!?
This needless God knew how needy I was/am and swore upon Himself to give Himself to me and all of His mercy. This is insanity, from my end. And I am so thankful.