Galatians 6

 

In our day there are not many Christians who would want to ensure that everyone is circumcised, so it can seem irrelevant that Paul says,

Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. (Galatians 6:12)

There are however many who would want to impress others with their ministry, and willing to make ‘their people’ pay the price to give this impression.

Those who wish to impress others about ministry usually have a simple focal point. This point defines someone as being part of their ministry, a simple accounting measure. When such a measure is clear then people are pressurised to conform to it. This brings us back to circumcision. In our day a person is circumcised when they conform to their leader’s view of what a Christian ought to look like. So, what is being cut off is an individual’s freedom in walking with Christ.

The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. (Galatians 6:12-13)

A significant drive towards this pressure for conformity is a wider ministry. This usually means those who are key influencers. There is a fear of losing a position of trust if I do not ensure the party line is followed.  Jesus said,

‘How can you believe when you accept praise from one another, but make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God.’ (John 5:44)

Paul makes the point that the people who are demanding such conformity do not achieve perfection. They demand such obedience not out of real concern for the Lord and the welfare of this believer, but so they can maintain pride amongst those whose opinion they value.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:4

Paul now goes to the heart. Instead of boasting at what he has achieved in his ministry, he focuses on the cross of Christ through which the world has been crucified to him. He is looking both at what Christ has done through His death on the cross and also his participation in the cross as His living sacrifice. As he writes,

 ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.’ (Galatians 2:20)

In essence then, this circumcision, this jumping through some hoop demanded by spiritual leaders takes so much focus that we take our eye off what is really key – Are we submitting to Jesus and allowing Him to take us through His process where He circumcises our hearts?

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. (Galatians 6:15)

As we allow Christ to take us to the cross and bring us to the death of self at His pace and in His way, we are being transformed into His likeness, we are becoming His new creation. We are not conforming to the requirements of Christian culture, but to Christ.

Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule – to the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16)