This is the final blog in a five-part book review series on the books by Mike Breen and the 3DM Team on missional communities. Today, Ruth Kelder shares her report on Breen’s newest book, Covenant and Kingdom and how the "assignment" to read it gave her valuable, new insights about scripture.
While Mike Breen does not claim to be a professional theologian, a biblical archeologist or an anthropologist, he does describe himself as an enthusiast for Scripture who over the years has reflected deeply on the themes of Scripture. As a result, he has identified what he believes to be the “warp and the weft” of the woven fabric which makes up the Bible. The warp — Covenant or relationship — reveals how to be one with God, and the weft — Kingdom or responsibility — tells us how to do something for him (p. xii).
It was interesting to read through the stories of some of the Old Testament greats (Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and David) while exploring the two main themes of Covenant (relationship) and Kingdom (responsibility). Clearly, the confidence to go about our God-given responsibility in the kingdom flows out of the confidence that comes from a covenantal relationship with God. Even though God’s people lost their way over and over again and broke their covenant with God, God continued to reveal his desire to restore the relationship with his people. Jesus provides the ultimate restoration and also gives the fullest expression of Covenant and Kingdom. A brief look at Paul and the early church reveals that Covenant and Kingdom were at the root of ministry methods and message.
When I sat down to read this book, I intended to read it in a couple of sittings, merely with the goal of fulfilling my agreement to write this report for the Network. Instead, as I took time to reflect on each of the Bible characters through the lenses of Covenant and Kingdom I came to understand more clearly the meaning of Scripture. I believe Breen is correct when he says, "Being able to identify the main themes of any passage (Covenant or Kingdom), no matter how obscure, will be an essential skill as you seek to apply the Bible’s truth to your life" (p. 233). I can imagine using this book with new believers who are just being introduced to the “warp and weft” of the Bible. Equally, when those who have read the Bible for a long time come to identify the themes of Covenant and Kingdom in their reading, they will be able to reflect on their own identity as a child of God and their Kingdom response that results from this knowledge. Pastors might explore using the themes of Covenant and Kingdom in a sermon series on key biblical characters. Personally, I am considering using “Covenant and Kingdom” as the theme for an annual church retreat after which we will apply the themes in our triad Bible studies.
I recommend you read this book and when you do so join Mike Breen in his prayer that, as you read this book, your passion to study the Bible will be rekindled and that as you hold the greatest of all books in your hands you will discover at a deeper level that you are held in the hands of another (p. xii).