“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
– Galatians 5:6 (ESV – Read the chapter)
In our first look at this verse we talked about the fact that Paul did some serious boat-rocking when he said that neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything. He waded right into the middle of a contentious cultural debate and announced that both sides were wrong. Whether you had been circumcised or not did not have any bearing on whether or not you could become a follower of Jesus. Jesus came for everybody and everybody can receive Him no matter the state of their…well, you know.
And if Paul had left things there, he would have rocked his culture’s boat, but otherwise left us with merely a point waiting to be interpreted in a hundred different ways, most of them, ironically, culturally-rooted, to settle some debate that was probably a whole lot more like the circumcision debate than not.
But he didn’t.
Paul said something else after this. And this something else, though, it blends into the background because of our getting hung up on understanding and sorting out the circumcision stuff, is a game changer for how we think about our own faith.
You see, we have cultural debates like Paul’s culture did. The church is the church and has been the church in every era since it’s founding in the wake of Pentecost. And the church is filled with people who sometimes get all hung up on issues that don’t determine our salvation even though we think they do. Paul knew we would do that, and so he added this next piece. It’s not just circumcision and uncircumcision that count for nothing, if you are in Christ, nothing counts for anything except faith working in love.
Like I said: Game changer.
Think about this one for just a minute. If you are a follower of Jesus, the only thing that ultimately matters in your life is your faith working in love. Think how utterly uncomplicated this makes living as a follower of Jesus. Think about all the things we run around trying to accomplish because we’ve convinced ourselves that they matter. In every single situation we face, only one question is worth our answering: Have I worked my faith in love? Have I expressed my faith in Christ by intentionally moving the people around me in the direction of Jesus? If I have, I’m on the right track; if I haven’t, I’m not. It’s that simple.
Now, you can apply this in a hundred different directions and I’m going to leave that to you, but no matter what you are facing, this is the question to ask: Have I expressed my faith in Jesus by intentionally moving the people around me in His direction? That goes for your kids. It goes for your spouse. It goes for the person sitting next to you in the pew. It goes for the stranger passing you on the street. It goes for the weird guy you saw in the store. It goes for that girl who always elicits a groan whenever she comes around. It goes for the nut job sitting firmly on the other side of the political aisle from you. It goes for the old guy who won’t understand why everything can’t just be like it was. It goes for the idiot millennial who can’t grasp that the world actually worked and got along just fine prior to 1985 or so. It goes for every person and every situation you will ever encounter from here on out for the rest of your life. Are you expressing your faith in love? Then keep going.
All the other things we worry and fret about will work themselves out later. But this one thing is ultimately the only thing that matters. Following Jesus is gloriously simple. May I invite you to do it?