Friday, March 11, 2022

I am Crucified with Christ. Christ Lives in Me!

 Read Galatians 2

And so, to begin Galatians 2, we go to Genesis 17.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.  Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations.  No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.  I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.  I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.  The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come.  This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised.  You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you.  For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring.  Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.  Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

This circumcision stuff was not a slight matter for the Hebrew people.  In the past, it wasn’t an issue.  There were no expectations for the Gentiles because they were not God’s people. It’s the not my circus, not my monkey mindset.

Jesus changed the dynamic.  Now God was sending his emissaries out to all the peoples of the world.  God’s love was and is for all.  All can come in good relationship with God through belief in Christ Jesus.

Does that end God’s covenant with Abraham?  No.  God’s Chosen People will bear this sign in the flesh as part of an everlasting covenant.  It is not a condition of salvation for those who come to Christ Jesus and receive him as Lord.

Today, in the modern, western world, circumcision is more a medical choice than a decision of religion or faith.  Two thousand years ago, it was a sign in the flesh of the covenant that God made with Abraham and very important to his chosen people. We can’t fully understand how much this meant to God’s Chosen People.

I’m thinking that I would not have wanted to be the junior rabbi at temple gates during Passover or some other big event.  The Sanhedrin sitting high and mighty would surely assign the most junior rabbi’s circumcision check duty.  Nobody gets in from the Gentile courts without proof of circumcision.

I’m thinking I don’t like the idea of a vaccination passport, but I would have been ok with a circumcision passport. You think getting wanded at airport security is invasive…

The Jews are still God’s Chosen People, but God has extended his unfathomable love to all.  He has chosen us to be a part of his eternal family.

This was a matter of some discussion when Paul met with Peter, James, and John in Jerusalem, as we read in Acts 15. Where does circumcision, and for that matter, other matters of the law fit into the paradigm for these new believers from the Gentile world?

Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.”

The apostles and elders met to consider this question.  After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.  Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?  No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

And in this first big church meeting, we see grace triumphant over ritual and works and even an everlasting sign inn the flesh.  Later on, Paul would talk about Gentiles being grafted into the line of Abraham and a discussion of circumcision might ensue from there, but surely the purpose of such grafting was for God to include all humankind into his eternal family.

So, if the Gentile believers were not required to be circumcised, how would they be known as followers of Jesus?

Jesus commanded us to be known by our love.  Our baptism is considered our modern-day sign.  It’s a sign in the spirit not the flesh, but that’s part of how we are to be known and how we are to live.

Paul presented it this way.

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

The law which could only show me that I had fallen short of the glory of God offered little in the way of atonement.  Again and again, I was led to make recurring atonement for my sin.

I am dead to that way now.  The law was not bad.  God gave it for our own good, but now we receive the ultimate good of the law.  We have come to know grace.

We come to know God through his Son and his atoning sacrifice—a once and for all sacrifice.

Where does that leave me? Where does that leave any of us who have come to know Christ in this modern century?

I am crucified with Christ.  Christ lives in me.

Our sin, our debt, our old self was nailed to the cross with Christ.  And that old self that was so egregious as far as the law goes, is now dead. There was no resurrection for that old self. There will be more to follow along these lines.

But through God’s grace, his Son lives in me.  We have received the deposit of the Holy Spirit and we know that life eternal is real and that God has chosen us.

Christ lives in me!

Paul will address this concept in different ways in many letters, but we need to get our hearts and our heads around this idea that God himself is living within us.

The old sinful self is dead.  It is Christ himself who lives in me.

I am crucified with Christ.  Christ lives in me.

Yes, we have some wrestling to do along the way, but we need to be fully convinced in our own minds that Christ Jesus lives within us.

I suggest that we get so accustomed to this quip of theology, that our minds become more and more accepting of what it means.

I am crucified with Christ.  Christ lives in me.


No comments:

Post a Comment