I wrote yesterday that covenants strengthen relationships. Making promises to one another provides opportunities to build trust. So when God invites us to make covenants with Him, He is giving us the opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Him.
Our covenants with God not only bring us closer to Him; they also bring us closer to other people. Consider the words of Alma, as he invited a group of people at the waters of Mormon to make covenants with God through baptism. Notice how much of that covenant relates to other people. This is not simply a private agreement between the individual and God. It is an agreement which fundamentally alters the relationships between that individual and other people:
- “As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God” – Not just to become a disciple of Christ, but to become part of a group of disciples of Christ.
- “And to be called his people” – Again, a reference to the group, not the individual.
- “And are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” – By entering into this community of believers, they would benefit from one another’s support.
- “And are to mourn with those that ; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” – Not to live the life of a secluded hermit. Part of the covenant is that we will empathize, connect with, and serve other people, particularly the people who need us most.
- “And to stand as of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death” – For what purpose? To spiritually strengthen other people. When we are baptized, we promise to help others not only physically but also spiritually.
- “That ye may be redeemed of God” – This one sounds more individual.
- “And be numbered with those of the “ – Even in the next life, there is a sense of community, a sense of belonging to a group of like-minded individuals.
- “That ye may have eternal life” – which means “to live forever as families in God’s presence” (“Eternal Life,” Guide to the Scriptures).
After all of that discussion about their relationship to one another and to other people, it is no wonder that Alma organized the people who were baptized into a church.
They were called the church of God, or the church of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church (Mosiah 18:17).
He urged them to avoid contention and to strive for unity amongst themselves:
They should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another (Mosiah 18:21).
The people followed Alma’s counsel. They took care of one another, both temporally and spiritually. They kept the covenant they had made. And they were filled with joy (Mosiah 18:29-30).
Today, I will be grateful for the ways my covenants with God enhance and strengthen my relationships with other people. I will be grateful for the trust and unity I experience with others who have made the same covenants. I will also remember that the covenants I have made with God require me to serve other people both temporally and spiritually.