January 03, 2013
Written by Rodney Mundy

Excerpt from Acts 7:44-53 

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do."

Quinn G. Caldwell

Stephen, inches from becoming the first Christian martyr, gives his famous speech to the Council and hits 'em where it hurts: in the circumcision.  Male circumcision was (and still is) one of the primary markers of Jewish identity.  Stephen implies that his hearers, though circumcised in the usual place, aren't actually circumcised where it counts: in the heart and ears.  I can see why they got mad; you would too if they told you that a bit of your body you'd had cut off for God wasn't all that important.  Especially that bit.

Of course, in one way, Stephen has a point.  Probably what God cares about most is that your heart is set aside for God.  But what is a circumcised heart?  What part gets cut off?  I was once in a Bible study with a woman who would sort of freak out every time this metaphor came up.  "Gross!" she would say.  "I'm not sure I want one of those."

And how does one circumcise one's ears for God?  Earplugs?  Notching them like a pig's?  Refusing to hear anything that doesn't agree with what you think you already know about God?

So how about it?  What do you think a circumcised heart is?  Circumcised ears?  Do they matter as much as Stephen thinks?  And if so, how do you go about getting them?  Head on over to our Facebook page and tell us what you think.


God, I'm willing to do whatever you tell me to do to make me yours.  But I'm going to need a little more clarity on this point before I reach for the scalpel.  Amen.

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.

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