Skip to content

Are you prepared to make a contract with God?

The history of the people of Israel was all about them making agreements with God, God being faithful, and them being less than always faithful! From a historical perspective, the Jewish people looked back to Abraham as the start of their formal contract with God. This was the moment that they agreed to be God’s people, when Abraham looked up at the stars in heaven and God promised that his descendants would be as many as the stars in heaven and the sand on the beach.

This contract continued with Abraham’s sons and was renewed with Moses, who led the people out of slavery in Egypt and through the desert until they reached the promised land. Having survived the desert, once they reached the promised land, the danger was always that they would forget about God. Having reached a land with good farming soil and plenty of water, including the river Jordan, it would have been tempting for the people to think, “We don’t need God. We’ve got a good place here, with plenty of good food and water, we can look after ourselves; we don’t need God.”

That’s a constant temptation, when things are going well. When things are going well, it’s easy to forget about God, because you think to yourself, “I did all this. I farmed the land and harvested the crop. I don’t need God.” It’s when things go wrong that people often turn back to God.

That is precisely why Joshua, who became the leader of the Israelites after Moses, decided to renew the contract with the people of Israel (see Joshua 24: 1–18). He wanted to remind them of their covenant with God, before they started to forget. He wanted to make sure they remembered to pray to God when life was good, as well as when life was bad.

Are you prepared to make a contract with God?

I had a recent birthday and, as I get older, one of the ways I constantly renew my contract with God is through thankfulness: remembering to be grateful. Gratitude is a really good way to stay close to God. Practising gratitude is a really positive thing to do emotionally. It’s really good for your wellbeing, which means it’s really good for your relationship with God.

I have a really simple way of practising gratitude: I find a comfortable, quiet place to sit. I have a pair of leather recliner seats in my front room in the Chaplain’s house which are really comfortable, so I choose one of those and get comfy. Often when I sit in those chairs our cat, Pepper, will come and lie on me. I get comfy and I do a mental checklist of everything I have to be grateful for: I live in a lovely city, with great weather for the most part, I live in a nice part of the city (it’s great to be able to walk into town or go to the zoo without worrying about parking), I have a good job, which I actually enjoy, I have a lovely family, I’m in good health: the list goes on! This time of gratitude often leads to a period of meditation, which I find life-giving and energising.

Showing gratitude is a way of renewing my contract with God: I have so much for which to be grateful to God. The thing to remember about God is that God wants to bless us. He actually wants us to be happy and content. In certain parts of Christian history there was almost a sense of guilt if things were going too well. But actually God wants us to be happy. God cares about our wellbeing.

The contract side of the relationship, the trade-off if you like, is that we are to be generous and serve others. That’s the “love your neighbour” side of our deal with God. God is generous to us and we are to be generous to others. That’s the deal. That’s the requirement of us. Gratitude then is what motivates and inspires us to do God’s work, which is caring for others.

Are you prepared to make a contract with God? I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

The Reverend Dr Theo McCall
School Chaplain