What covenant are you keeping in 2020 as you begin a new year and new decade?
A covenant is a sacred promise that guides our desires, decisions, and actions. It’s our most basic commitment, which we aim to embody in everything else that we say and do.
For example, as a husband who made a marriage covenant with Lily almost ten years ago, I’m always seeking to live as her husband and to love her – wherever I am, with whomever I am, in whatever I’m doing, even if she isn’t around. My marriage covenant has become the overarching context and commitment that defines every other context and commitment in my life. My covenant with Lily is always relevant and at the heart of who I am.
In 2020, I want to invite you to sign and practice the Neighbor-Love Covenant, which I’ll share below.
When Jesus was asked about the key to everlasting life, he said to love God completely and to love your neighbor as yourself. Here Jesus makes perhaps his most profound promise: “Do this and you will live” (Luke 10:28).
Jesus then describes the neighbor in the most surprising way: the ethnic other, the religious heretic, the political adversary – the Samaritan. Whenever we cross the boundaries that divide us to embrace one another in love, we become neighbors to one another. “Do this and you will live,” Jesus promises.
For Jesus, neighbor-love is not a nice moral principle or a fuzzy feeling. Neighbor-love is the key to everlasting life. It’s the very heart of God and the life worth living. It’s the stuff of covenant – that most basic commitment that rightly energizes and guides all of our desires, decisions, and actions.
The Neighbor-Love Covenant invites you do just that: to embrace neighbor-love as your most basic, life-defining commitment. Here it is:
“Today I covenant to love my neighbor as myself. Every woman, man, and child is my neighbor across every boundary and identity. I choose to see and treat my neighbors with value, respect, and practical compassion. Today I say Yes. I am an ambassador of neighbor-love.”
This Covenant does four simple yet profound things.
First, it names neighbor-love as the signer’s covenant commitment – not a matter of convenience or occasional concern.
Second, it names who the neighbor is: every woman, man, and child without exception. No one and no group of people is irrelevant or outside the scope of this covenant to love.
Third, it declares a choice to practice neighbor-love. Neighbor-love is a way of life to be embodied through valuing, respecting, and serving others – not simply a belief to affirm or agree with.
Finally, the covenant declares oneself to be an “ambassador” or full-time representative of neighbor-love. An ambassador certainly isn’t perfect. But they are someone who actively seeks to embody and promote the practice of neighbor-love in their personal and professional life.
Please stop and think for moment: are you willing to sign the Neighbor-Love Covenant today at the beginning of 2020?
If you are, you can sign it here. Going forward, the Neighbor-Love Movement will send you a monthly reminder to renew and deepen your Covenant throughout the year.
I also invite you to download our Covenant Card, print it, and put it in a place where you can see it on a daily basis as a reminder to practice neighbor-love.
As you can see, the Covenant introduces seven Practices that embody neighbor-love. We believe that neighbor-love begins with our bodies and the way we see and treat one another rather than mere words and ideas. In the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring each of these practices for our personal and professional lives.
Dear friends – dear neighbors – the beginning of a new decade is the perfect time to take stock of the covenants, implicit or explicit, that define our lives. What covenant are you keeping in 2020?
“Do this and you will live.”
Yours with love and gratitude in 2020,