From Jackie Farmer:
Recently Pastor Sean sent an email basically asking everyone to think on this question. As a member of the pastoral team I have had a little heads up in being able to think about this subject. I came to Berean almost six years ago and in the last few months I have learned that Berean has a covenant already in place. I knew it was there, I have read the constitution, but I did not really think about it as something that needed to be enforced. I find this strange since I have seen so much emphasis be placed upon the constitution. Here is a section of the constitution that is largely ignored. I mostly ignored it because I already practice it in my personal life; this is probably true of most of us. Therefore, when Pastor approached the subject of enforcing it I thought "no problem." I even went as far in my thoughts to say awesome this should put more of us on the same page and accomplish unity on a whole new level. However, this has not been the case, much to the sadness of Christ who prayed that we would be one.
So here are my thoughts on the covenant of Berean Baptist Church and covenants I have lived by in my life.
I have no problem making a pledge to live my life by a standard described in a document. As a member of the US Army I did this everyday for many years. I obeyed Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush as my commander-in-chiefs. I obeyed the officers appointed over me. I gave up some of my personal constitutional rights to defend others ability to live their life in full freedom of those same rights I gave up. I did this because I loved my country, I denied the GI Bill. I do not understand the big deal then about saying to my fellow Berean's I am with you all the way. I will do my best in Christ's power to live my life beside you in a way that is helpful to you and honors God. I am even willing to sacrifice some of my personal preferences in order to show you I love you.
I believe that a covenant is great. I have entered into a verbal covenant with Angela. That verbal covenant is our wedding vows. Whether I perform a wedding or attend a wedding I am reminded of my vows to Angela. If we are attending a wedding we hold hands and as the bride and groom exchange vows we touch each other's rings as a reminder of our covenant. Thus our rings are a reminder that we live in a covenant relationship with God and each other. So what is wrong with pulling out a document and reminding each other this is what we have promised to do unto one another?
Should a covenant be flexible? Sure. Think about the wedding vows again. I promised to love Angela till death do us part but those vows did not define the method of conveying that love. Sometimes I wash the dishes to convey that love. Sometimes I do the laundry to convey that love. Sometimes I take her on a date to convey my love. Sometimes I buy her flowers to convey that love. Sometimes I skip watching the hockey game on TV to show her that love. So what is wrong with saying we will leave some decisions of life up to God and our fellow Berean?
Should a covenant possess hard stances? Sure. Think about the wedding vow to keep myself to Angela and only her till death do we part. This means mentally, emotionally, and physically as I am made in the image of God. This means all of my being is reserved for her alone. No other woman is to have my mind, my heart, my attention, my anything as long as Angela lives. So what is wrong with saying to my fellow Berean's I promise you I will not or I will... whatever?
Pastor Sean is right we need to revive the idea of living by what we promise in our lives and in our church. If our current covenant is too rigid then let wise men and women rise up and declare the wisdom of God that they possess and give input into a covenant that honors God by allowing the body here to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. If it is what it should be, then let us begin to live and be accountable to it. If we believe that we can live without making those promises to one another then so be it. I do however, doubt that the last course of action would benefit or honor God's work here in this church. I mean without my marriage vows being what they are I could easily twist the lives of men like David in the Bible to justify having more than one wife and who could hold me accountable otherwise? The current state of Christianity is adrift and we need to declare what we will live by, document that, and be accountable to it.
To all my fellow Berean's and pastors, I am with you and I pledge to contribute to forming a covenant that we can live with and by, and then allowing you to hold me accountable to that promise for as long as I am a member of Berean.