July 27, 2021
11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 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. 14 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. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.
17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
We can always look back at our own history and see the things we used to do and shake our heads in disbelief that we could have acted in such a way. Our kids and grandkids will do the same in 20, 30, even 50 years from now. Not that things were better in the past, now or in the future. Things are changing. We fix some things from the past and often create our own new problems as we move along. Circumcision was the issue then. There have been many other issues throughout the history of the church. There are issues today and there will be new ones to come. They come because we lose focus on what is most important.
I read some news about the larger church yesterday, about conflict in one of the larger churches and we can point at their struggles as a problem for the church. There are things that many will use to paint us all with one brush, being controlling and divisive. We don’t need to look far from ourselves to find troubles that need to be dealt with. Others may need to deal with things that are much more high profile, but our own struggles will be just as damaging if we do not restore focus where it belongs. The gospel of Jesus – Jesus as crucified and resurrected; Jesus as the one returning to make the complete restoration of all creation.
In our own ways we will continue to have temptations to make our faith and our being the body of Christ together about our preferences, our egos, our boasting in the wrong things. Yet it should always be about the work of Christ in our restoration. It should be about the work of the Holy Spirit in making us new people. It is about being restored as we also take part in restoring God’s creation to what he made it to be in the first place. The focus is not to us, but always to God. In our worship together, in our service to the world, in all of life we see that it is about God, his work in us and in his world. The thing that counts, as Paul reminds us, is the new creation. New creation coming and new creation now.
This is the end of Galatians and tomorrow we will have the last in our look at Acts and the beginnings of the church. We have seen their beginning into something new and unknown for them. We will then switch back to the Old Testament to Exodus, looking at being set free from slavery and being brought to the other side, to a new future that was unknown and uncertain to the people, but known and certain to God as he leads them through Moses. We are coming to a new future as the church in new creation now and beyond to the forever new creation. Seeing God at work today and in the future as we look back at the work he has already done that shows the certainty of these promises.
Song – God of Wonders
We praise you, God almighty, for the power you have shown in creating the world. We thank you for your love in redeeming us from sin and in creating us anew in Christ. Grant us strength in this life to honor you, Lord God, both in worship and in witness, for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.