"In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but only faith working through love." - Galatians 5:6
Circumcision might not be the sort of thing you want to contemplate as you start your day. The imagery is awkward, but for the Apostle Paul, the issue was of paramount importance.
You see, Paul was not the only Jewish Christian whirling around the Mediterranean making converts and drumming up churches among gentiles. There were others who, unlike Paul, required converts to become Jews before becoming Christians. For men, that meant circumcision which was no small hurdle, let me tell you.
Besides the vexation it posed to male recruits, Paul found circumcision completely unnecessary. It's all well and good to be a bona fide, man-child of Abraham, but when you have faith in the crucified and risen Christ, circumcision is just too little too late. Faith, according to Paul, was the one and only thing needed.
Paul's view eventually won out. Sadly, the impulse to add an obligation for salvation (faith plus this or that) keeps popping up. Circumcision is no longer the go-to pre-requisite but some church leaders now demand a change in sexual orientation. Some expect converts to adopt their values and social platform. Others require re-baptism. Still others call for a whopping donation to secure a place among the saved.
For Paul, all that mattered was faith expressing itself through love. Faith is the only step necessary. Love is the only evidence of faith you need.
What could be better than salvation in one easy step?
Have faith. Love will follow.
That is all.
Thanks for keeping it simple, God. Even I can remember that.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.