Practicing the Better: Covenant

We could spend more time in the opening chapters of Genesis, but the rest of Scripture awaits us, holding in its revelation pearls of great price with respect to practicing the better.  The next element is summarized in the word Covenant.  Covenant is the way God chose to restore the light, life, and love which had been lost in the Fall.

Think of Covenant as a wide-angle photograph.  It captures the whole picture.  That’s one reason both the Hebrew scriptures and the Christian scriptures (which together comprise the Bible) are called ‘covenant’–the old (first) covenant and the new (second) covenant. Everything God does with us, in us, and through us is in relation to Covenant–in relation to the restoration of light, life, and love.
Obviously, this is too much to take in, so we will zoom in on aspects of Covenant which connect to practicing the better.  Even doing this we must be selective and illustrative.  But I believe there are key aspects of Covenant which are particularly helpful as we seek to be instruments of God’s peace. We will explore some of them in upcoming posts.

For today, we simply remind ourselves that God provided the Covenant to do two major things: (1) to create an alternative consciousness, and (2) to create an alternative community where the new mindset could be taught and practiced. [1] Now, as then, it takes a renewed consciousness and a restored community to practice the better. Light, life and love cannot exist without these two things. Without a renewed consciousness we have no way of knowing what ‘the better’ is.  And without a restored community, we will be disconnected individuals hoping to accomplish something we were never meant to do alone.

Covenant is the manifestation of grace in our individual and collective life–the soil in which light, life, and love germinate, sprout, and grow–bearing the fruit we are calling in this series the practice of the better.

[1] Walter Brueggemann explores these two aspects of Covenant in his book, ‘The Prophetic Imagination.’

About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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