We are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) and covenant love is the mortar that allows us to be built into a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14)
God’s nature is covenantal
All great projects, achievements or civilizations are marked by serious commitment to the cause. Covenant characteristics are also noteworthy in Judeo-Christian history. In fact, before covenant was expressed in law and legal documents (deeds, etc.), it existed in the nature of God.
Before there were an Old Covenant and a New Covenant, and before there was a covenant with Noah… there was a covenantal God! It is his nature to be loyal, faithful, reliable, consistent and true to his word. Commitment, it seems, does not scare him at all. He relishes it; he invites it; he models it; he initiates it.
Yet covenant, and covenant love are not frequent topics in Christian books and sermons. Why is that? Nothing is more repulsive to the flesh than being “locked in” or “decided.” We would always like to be doing what we “feel like” doing. Certain lawyers make a living by getting us out of clear agreements and commitments that we have made. The best phone plans are the ones where “no commitment is necessary.” After a while, we mistakenly attempt serious things (family life, starting a business, building the kingdom of God) with a “no commitment” attitude and those things are doomed to fail.
The glue that holds a community of disciples together
Covenant and covenant love are the glue that holds a community of disciples together. The love of God is a constant. In desiring to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), we intend to model his nature, and model his love to our brothers and sisters. We are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) and covenant love is the mortar that allows us to be built into a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14).
The nature of God’s word
God is a “man of His word.” He is faithful, his word is everlasting. His word, and his approach to it, defines the divine. His word is so essential, so crucial, so defining that he named his only begotten son the “Word of God.”
- “The Word was God.” John 1:1
- “And the Word became flesh.” John 1:14
- “The name by which he is called is the Word of God.” Revelation 19:13
- “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7
In the Sword of the Spirit, we say we are a “community of disciples on mission.” The fact that our communities have lasted over fifty years is at least an initial sign that the covenant love of God and the love of the brethren are in place.
When I first heard of the Baptism in the Spirit in 1970, I remember thinking, “I knew there was supposed to be more than what we were experiencing!” Something in me was expecting more. The Scripture readings on Sundays always pointed to the hope of something more. There is more, much more, and we in the Sword of the Spirit are just scratching the surface of what the Lord has for us.
“There is an urgent need for a strong testimony and Christian formation. What great need there is of living Christian communities! This is where the ecclesial movements and new communities appear. They are the answer which has been raised up by the power of the Holy Spirit to the dramatic challenge at the end of the millennium. You are this providential answer.”– Pope John Paul II
This reflection is adapted from Essays on Christian Community: Do Covenant Communities Have Something to Contribute to Our Models of Church, Chapter 3, © 2019 by Bob Tedesco, published by Credo House Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Used with permission.
Top photo credit: image of a Christian cross in a brick wall, from Bigstock.com, Copyright © clearviewstock, Stock Photo ID: 7637699
Bob Tedesco is the founder of the People of God, a Sword of the Spirit community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA where he served as Senior Coordinator for 26 years. He has been involved in lay ministry for over forty-five years, and has served as Regional President of the North American region in the Sword of the Spirit.