Looking Good

It is a battle that we all face.  Some are are more victorious than others.  Sometimes we aren’t aware of the battle and we struggle when we do not have to.  Being aware of the battle is, as they say, half the battle.  I thought that by my age that I would be done fighting the battle.  But I have found that it has come back in a fierce way.  Paul, I believe, was speaking of this battle in Galatians 6:11-15.  "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.  It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.  For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.  But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation."

Paul was giving a final warning to the people of Galatia that they should not listen to those who wanted to draw them back into living a life driven by the law instead of grace.  That, certainly, is a huge battle we face in our lives but it is not the battle I have been talking about.  The battle I have been talking about is when our lives are driven by what others think about us.  When we work so hard to look good in front of other people.  They set the agenda as to what our lives should look like.  Did you see how Paul called out those who were pushing others to get circumcised?  Their agenda was to be able to look good and to boast in the fact that they were controlling others.  It was all about power and how they looked to others.  It is a powerful battle and one that keeps us running until we wear out and are all spent.

Notice that Paul speaks of writing this with his own hand.  He was not using the scribe to write these things.  I am sure that this was to emphasize the importance of what he was saying but I think there was also another reason.  Paul was demonstrating that he was not too proud to show his weaknesses.  Others may make fun of his poor eyesight or shaky penmanship but that mattered little to Paul.  God had saved him from what the world thought was important.  His only concern was to share the truth with them concerning the freedom that understanding the gospel brings.  Being a new creature means redefining all things in life.  It means freedom from the constraints that the world puts on us to look good in the flesh to others.

Can you imagine if we fully embraced that idea today?  No longer driven by the world’s definition of success and prosperity.  No longer so body conscious that we are driven to embarrassment and shame.  No longer afraid to boldly live ideals that do not fit in with culture.  A willingness to admit that we cannot do all things well.  It is ok that we need to write in huge letters.  Not allowing our pasts to control how we view our present or future.  

Go back and reread our passage for today.  How much of your life is about “making a good showing in the flesh”?  Don’t those kinds of choices lead to exhaustion and instability?  The yoke and burden of living like the new creature that you are in Christ is far easier and certainly way lighter.  Paul did not allow his inability to write like everyone else stop him from being true to who he was in Christ.  Do not allow those around you to define who you are.  Live free by being the new creature God has called you to be.  Don’t be defined by others or your flesh but defined by the Word of God.

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