The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


June 3, 2013

Craig Tally: Relationship with God requires no contract

JOPLIN, Mo. — Any relationship worth its salt is worth attention. If we do not attend to a worthwhile relationship, it will lose its worthiness. This includes our relationship with God.

There are at least two kinds of relationships with which we have some degree of experience:

  • A contract is a legal, binding relationship, lasting for the duration of the stated terms. Whenever you have two or more parties, terms of agreement and signatures, you have a contract. A building contractor enters into a contractual relationship with you to build your house to certain specifications and in a certain time.
  • A covenant relationship is also a binding relationship, lasting for as long as the parties involved so desire. Marriage, for example, is considered covenantal rather than contractual.

The essential difference between the contract and the covenant is that a contract emphasizes what each party will do, whereas a covenant emphasizes what each party will be.

Significant differences exist between the two, with important implications at play. Most important is that in a contractual relationship, the trust is placed in the contract itself.

Are all bases covered? Is every "I" dotted and each "T" crossed? Has everything been spelled out clearly and precisely? If the answer is yes, one can hope to relax.

In a covenant relationship, the trust is placed in the other party, not in the promise or the agreement. The binding power is the care and love each person has for the other. Vows are declared, but are not legal.

Scripture teaches that the relationship between God and me is covenantal in nature. The Old Testament prophet Hosea (2:16) has God saying to Israel, "You will call me 'my husband' and no longer will you call me 'my baal' (my master)." Jesus spoke to the disciples: "I do not call you servants any longer; but friends" (John 15:15). These thoughts are steeped in the sentiment of covenant rather than contract.

Covenant relationships are built upon mutual love. Because love is offered and never imposed or demanded, freedom is a key element within the covenant.

This includes our covenant relationship with God. This means we are free to choose or to reject God. God does not impose his love upon us by demanding our love; the choice is ours.

Not only are we free, but God is free to choose us, which he did via creation. The Hebrew people carefully protected the idea of God's freedom. In the dedicatory prayer for the temple, three verbs were used to protect God's freedom. God could dwell in the temple, God might not dwell in the temple, and God could come and go. The Israelites refused to impose their expectation upon God.

We would do well to be as conscious of God's freedom as were the Hebrew believers. Consider, for example, the idea of claiming a promise made by God -- God has promised and we hold him accountable.

The question is not God's steadfastness. The question is the attitude that we would presume to hold God accountable; claiming the promise is contractual in nature and not at all like a covenant.

How can we be covenantal about God's promises, rather than contractual? We do so by being more concerned about God's freedom than we are about God's promise.

Perhaps an adaptation of the dedicatory prayer mentioned above would be appropriate: God can make a promise, God can change a promise and God can do what he wants.

What can possibly be wrong with that prayer?

Craig Tally is the senior minister of First Community Church in Joplin. His column appears bi-weekly. He can be reached at

Text Only
  • r070714palacedrinks2.jpg Spirits school: Drink-making lessons taught at downtown bar

    Some patrons have dubbed it "Drinks with Daniel," but the official name is "Cocktails 101," which has been attracting "students" for the last several weeks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071114_steve cindy head.jpg New exhibit combines works of married couple

    Steve and Cindy Head create different types of art, which means they can be each other's best mentor. Steve makes mixed media works assembled from photographs, headlines and more; Cindy paints vivid patterns and fanciful scenes with bold color palettes.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tantric tours in support of latest studio album

    "37 Channels," the latest album from Hugo Ferreira's band, features a lineup of guests including Hinder's Austin Winkler, Shooter Jennings, 3 Doors Down drummer Greg Upchurch, Uncle Kracker guitarist Kevin McCreery, Saving Abel guitarist Scott Bartlett and Leif Garrettt.

    July 11, 2014

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Globe Phone Test: Concept is clever, but transitions tricky with Asus PadFone X

    It's kind of embarrassing to point this out, but "Candy Crush Saga" is one of the best ways to illustrate how well the Asus PadFone X, a smartphone and tablet combo really works.

    Anyone who has more than one device will understand this situation completely: Let's say a player fires up "Candy Crush" on his tablet computer and really digs the game. A lot. So much so that he downloads it to his smartphone.

    Only there's one problem: All the progress made on the tablet is stuck on the tablet. The smartphone has a completely separate path of progress, meaning the player has to play each level twice. This makes progress through the game twice as long. (This problem can be fixed by signing up for the game on Facebook, but no one really wants their Facebook friends to know they spend so much time crushin' candy.)

    The Asus PadFone X is the dream solution to this nightmare of a problem.

    Available exclusively from AT&T, the device is actually two devices. A standalone smartphone can be plugged into a tablet computer, meaning the owner can take his pick of how he wants to play the game, and all the progress he makes is saved on one device's hard drive.

    AT&T loaned us a device that we tested for more than two weeks -- didn't like having to send it back -- and we found a lot of its qualities and quirks.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 071014_sugar rush1.jpg Sweet summer: Candy factory opens floor for tours, tasting

    When family from Kansas City came to visit Christy Albertson in her family's Webb City home, she wanted to find something entertaining for five kids.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_108172906 Benji Tunnell: 'Transformers' reaches new level of terrible filmmaking

    Then there's "Transformers: Age of Extinction," a film so bereft of originality, spontaneity and life that one would assume its creator must be a talentless hack. That's when you remember that it was directed by Michael Bay.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marta-mug.jpg Marta Churchwell: Crystal Bridges' coup makes art world cry foul

    I find Eastern art snobs insufferable. I have little patience for their pretentious eyebrow-raising over anything unworthy of their refined tastes.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jermiah-Tucker-020812.jpg Jeremiah Tucker: Power pop plays perfectly for Fourth of July

    One of the best bits from the long-running -- and sadly now defunct -- "Best Show on WFMU" with Tom Scharpling was the character Power Pop Pop Pop. The independent call-in and comedy radio show explored this menacing, Godfather-like figure of the power pop community via one of his minions, played by the brilliant indie rock drummer and comedian Jon Wurster.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • mug_joe-hadsall-112613.jpg Joe Hadsall: Found-footage tornado movie may be terrifying

    Funny how all it takes is one little thing to bring back the full onslaught of tornado-related dread, desolation and depression. This time, it was a movie trailer.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • aisha-sultan-mug.jpg Aisha Sultan: Study shows popular kids peak too early

    It was, of course, a popular mean girl who made my life miserable in middle school.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

Speaking of Gardens


Although the president of the United States is limited to two terms in office, members of Congress have no term limits. Would you support term limits for U.S. representatives and senators?

     View Results

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter