February 15, 2021
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
At first glance, this passage from Paul in the book of Galatians doesn’t seem to have anything to do with relationships. It’s tempting to skim past all of the circumcision talk the same way we might skim through the genealogies in the Old Testament. What does this Jewish problem have to do with us?
While we might not have to worry about false teachers telling us to get circumcised in order to come to church anymore, the bigger question in Galatia, “what do I need to do to get what I want?” has been continually asked since humans could ask it. Adam asked how he could be like God. Abraham asked how he could have a son. The Israelites asked how they could defeat their enemies. God has answered those questions, but that didn’t always stop humans from trying to do it their way anyway.
God’s answer to the question of salvation has always been faith. At first, faith meant following Torah, including being circumcised. But as Paul reminds the Galatians in chapter 5, Jesus’ death on the cross has freed them from the law, and now faith means “expressing itself through love.”
This month, we are thinking about our relationships and what exactly it means to love one another. After all, if faith is what we need to be saved, and faith means loving one another, then our relationships are the most important things that we do!