Galatians 6:15-16 “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything. What counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.”
Just what is the Christian life all about? It’s not about my body. That was the mistake of the people Paul was writing against here. It was not about whether you had had a procedure to remove a little skin. Paul had been circumcised, just like his opponents. Most of the members of the congregations in Galatia had not been. Neither way made a bit of difference to God. Neither way made a bit of difference for their salvation. It didn’t mean anything.
It’s not about my body. That’s the world’s way of thinking. It’s not about denying my body in fasting, or beating it to try to make amends for my sins. It’s not about caring for my body with just the right balance of diet and exercise to make it as healthy as could possibly be. You can follow the book “The Jesus Diet,” but that’s not the part of his life Jesus has called you to follow, and even the Jesus diet ends with a dead body, just like every other diet ever invented. It’s not about how you cover the body, so long as you are wearing enough cloth to keep someone else from falling into sin. But it is not about your taste in fashion, or lack thereof, because you can be saved in cut-off shorts and sandals as well as a thousand-dollar business suit with gold cuff links and a silk tie. Clothes may make the man, but they don’t make a Christian. It doesn’t mean anything.
It’s about the faith God gave me. “What counts is a new creation,” the one on the inside. The “new” about the Christian is his faith. The good news about Christ communicates such grace, such love, such promise, such hope, that it changes us and makes us entirely new and different sort of people. It changes us from God’s skeptics and doubters, his critics and deniers, his opponents and accusers, into people who trust his every word, who accept his every decision, who appreciate even the strange twists and painful disappointments he allows into our lives. A new creation doesn’t torture itself with great questions like “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?” “Why does God allow evil and suffering?” “Why does God save some and not others?” A new creation marvels at just one question: “Why did God have mercy on a sinner like me, and sacrifice the only Son he had to make me his own?” Only one thing can change us like that and create a new me: the preaching of Christ’s cross that gives us faith.
Living as Christians is about our gifts as God’s new creations. Paul concludes, “Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.” A new creation, a new me who trusts God, has peace. It is the normal condition of the person who knows that the Lord does not have anything against us. He cherishes us like a son or daughter, and not because we have stopped sinning, but because he keeps on forgiving. If that is the case, then what could possibly be wrong or go wrong?
A new creation is confident of God’s mercy. Sparing us from sin and relieving us in our misery isn’t just a duty our Lord performs so that he can check it off his task list. It’s not an incidental part of the “Higher Power” job description. He forgives us and he delivers us because he genuinely cares. It’s not our worthiness, but our misery and helplessness, that receives such mercy. We are confident because the mercy isn’t produced by us. It lives in him.
“Creations,” whether new or old, don’t produce themselves. They are made. Thank God for his grace that went to work and produced the new creation in you and me.