11 Look at the big letters I’m using as I write to you with my own hand! 12 Some people are worried about how things look on the outside. They are trying to force you to be circumcised. They do it for only one reason. They don’t want to suffer by being connected with the cross of Christ. 13 Even those who are circumcised don’t obey the law. But they want you to be circumcised. Then they can brag about what has been done to your body. 14 I never want to brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through that cross the ways of the world have been crucified as far as I am concerned. And I have been crucified as far as the ways of the world are concerned. 15 Circumcision and uncircumcision don’t mean anything. What really counts is that the new creation has come. 16 May peace and mercy be given to all who follow this rule. May peace and mercy be given to the Israel that belongs to God. 17 From now on, let no one cause trouble for me. My body has marks that show I belong to Jesus. 18 Brothers and sisters, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
It seems that one reason the Judaisers were compelling the Galatians to be circumcised was to impress others, so that they (the Judaisers) wouldn’t be persecuted. In Australia today we rarely suffer physical persecution. Yet we are persecuted emotionally by being laughed at or criticised for similar petty reasons.
Just as the Galatians were admonished by Paul to not give in to circumcision, we should not give in to following the world just to avoid persecution. For example, giving into peer pressure and allowing our kids to watch the MA rated movie when they’re only 12, or downloading a movie, speeding or avoiding tax to stop others ridiculing us. This is avoiding standing up for what we believe in order to avoid persecution.
The other reason the Galatians were being compelled was so that the Judaisers could boast that they had made these men comply with the law. Paul points out that we should only boast in Christ – in what he has done, not what we have done.
What counts is not what others think of us. What counts is that we are a new creation. Let us stand tall in this fact and be righteous and honour God and be prepared to suffer if that is the result.
Written by Megan Cornell