Sadly some of us picked up an idea years ago that because we were all 'in covenant' together in our churches or networks or ministry partnerships, then disconnection was regarded as 'covenant-breaking' or 'violating-covenant'. In fact, it was a funny old thing because in my experience most of us said that we did not really believe this, and many of the leaders who might be accused of this stance are on record as saying it doesn't apply in most cases. And yet often when people felt that it was right to disconnect, for whatever reason (good or bad), the stakes for relationship had been raised so high by this language that it often felt that the concept of covenant-breaking cast a dark shadow over it and prevented us from handling disagreement better or maintaining relationship after disconnection.
Of course, covenant love is a beautiful thing. When we are brought into the new covenant with and through Christ, we are actually in that covenant with all our brothers and sisters in Christ. And, by the way, we are failing to value that covenant every time we gossip, ridicule, slander, dishonour, devalue, or dismiss any fellow-Christian (oh dear...if we're honest perhaps we are all covenant breakers). Of course, to have the opportunity to express that love in Christ in a strong, committed, transparent, mutually honouring relationship, friendship and partnership within a local church family (I believe God ideally wants us all connected to one of those by the way) and among close friends and fellow-workers, that's fantastic. Love, loyalty, faithfulness and honesty are vitally important in such relationships, and when they are damaged it's a tragic thing. But when the concept of covenant is used a a means of control through guilt, and covenant has become a cold chain locking us into a connection that no longer has life and purpose in it, then we are massively missing the point of covenant.
In fact covenant love enables us to disconnect with love. David and Jonathan are often rightly used as a great example of covenant friendship. I have always loved the words spoken by Jonathan to David when a combination of circumstances and calling meant they had to disconnect:
Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD...(1 Sam 20:42)Far from being a chain that bound them, their covenant enabled them to separate in peace for they were knit together in heart and that joining transcended space and time. Of course, such covenant love should also affect the way separation is handled and means always maintaining peace, honour, love, regard and a good report towards and about those we disconnect from. Let's learn both how to connect and disconnect (when that's right) with love and honour, like these two covenant friends.