As a Christian, what defines you? How would others describe you as a follower of Christ? What is that one thing that sets you apart from others? Today, as we meditate on Paul's final words to the Galatians, we will learn from him what truly defines a Christian.
To Paul, what matters in the new order of Christ is the new united humanity created by God, comprising both Jews and Gentiles.
″See, I am writing to you in large letters because I want you to know how vital this issue is,″ Paul begins this section (see Galatians 6:11). Paul has always desired for Christ to be formed in the Galatian believers, and this is an internal work of the Holy Spirit (4:19).
The Judaizers, on the other hand, are pushing their own agenda by putting the external mark of circumcision on them. They want to impress people, Paul points out in Galatians 6:12. Why? Because they want ″to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ″ (6:12). Paul could be referring to the Jewish zealots' threat against those teaching justification by faith or a law-free gospel. The Judaizers are trying to compel the Galatians to be circumcised so as to show they are zealous for the law, thus avoiding persecution for the Jerusalem church-to which they belong-and her daughter churches in Judea.
″They are only interested in boasting how many converts they have won over. It's not like they really want to keep the law,″ Paul reminds his readers (see v. 13). However, they can boast for all they want over external things. As for him, he will boast only in the cross of Jesus Christ (v. 14). As simple as it sounds, that has immense significance. The cross was a reviled symbol in Paul's day: an offence to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks (1 Corinthians 1:23). Yet, Paul unashamedly embraces it and takes pride in it. To him, the cross is the expression of God's grace in saving humanity that leaves no room for human pride.
Paul now sees and evaluates life differently. What was once significant, he now considers garbage, and what was once detestable is now important (Philippians 3:8); he no longer lives according to worldly standards. By embracing the cross, the world is permanently severed (crucified) from him, and he from the world (Galatians 6:14).
To Paul, what matters in the new order of Christ is the new united humanity created by God, comprising both Jews and Gentiles. The old order of law-keeping, of circumcision and of Jews and Gentiles, is over; it no longer has any significance (v. 15). As for him, he is beholden to nobody but Jesus Christ, his Master. The many physical scars he carries due to persecutions he has endured, are Jesus' marks of ownership (v. 17). Henceforth, let no one harp on his gospel, missionary policy, or apostleship any more, for everything that he stands for can be traced back to just one source: Christ!
Is this our position too?