Our covenant begins with this preface:
Together we enter into a covenant as God’s people and make the following commitments to each other. These commitments are not burdensome but rather they are our joy as we live out our faith in Jesus and fulfill the biblical command to love our brothers and sisters with whom we share union in Christ:
We are reminded at the very outset what this whole “covenant” thing is about – it is our mutual pledge (“commitments to each other”) and it is not primarily a matter of duty but of Christian delight (“not burdensome but rather they are our joy”). Further, this is not to be thought of as a list of rules to keep, but rather a tangible expression of living by faith (Gal 2:20-21) and obedience to Christ’s command to love one another (John 13:34-35).
But even more fundamental than establishing a context of living by faith and loving one another is our mutual fellowship in Christ Himself (“…with whom we share union in Christ”).
The whole reason we can covenant together in the first place as Christ’s people is because we are, in fact, Christ’s people. Our fellowship with one another is not a matter of simply deciding we need some people to get along with in life, or that we are living out some version of a “social contract” where we define laws to protect ourselves. No, it is something far more than that. We cannot even talk about our lives together as a church without first talking about who we are in Jesus. We are, after all, His body. We are in Him, He is in us, and He is with us. We possess the Spirit of Christ, and therefore have fellowship not only with God but with one another.
It is on this foundation that everything else is built. It’s as if everything else we could say about life together in the church is really just putting details to this reality – that we are the body of Christ. What does this look like? What does it mean for a people to take this shared identity seriously? That’s what the rest of the covenant addresses.