Romans Road 8
A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God. Romans 2:28-29
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” You were taught this as a child in order to differentiate between things that matter, and things that ultimately can’t hurt you. Your mother reminded you that the names that the other kids were calling you weren’t true and that you should just ignore them. Not only did this lesson help you to mature and develop a thicker skin, it taught you to discern differences of importance. You learned as you got older that there were things that could actually hurt you and responded differently to those then you would implied threats.
Discerning between the real and what you think is real is one of the more important aspects of your faith. Jesus made this fact very clear in his oft-ignored warning in Matthew chapter 7; “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you.” (Mt 7:21-23a)
How many people call themselves Christians but don’t follow Christ? How many people have gone through the motions of church attendance and baptism and some peripheral participation in the things of God and yet have never truly repented or committed their full faith to Jesus Christ? When Paul was addressing the matter of ethnic Jews, in the passage above, he was speaking bluntly to those who were depending on their bloodline for salvation before God. Physically circumcised, perhaps even obedient to the letter of the sacrificial system, they still didn’t believe in the power in the promises of Yahweh. They were not circumcised in the heart.
The church throughout her history has seen more than her share of people similarly un-gripped. They profess Christianity but there’s little evidence of it in their lives. They profess to be followers of Jesus but don’t do what he says as Lord (Luke 6:46). They have no desire to pray, little desire to worship and only a fleeting familiarity with God’s word. They may have been physically baptized but the waters of repentance have never reached their heart.
I pray that this doesn’t describe you, but if it does, I pray that you are offended and moved to action. The circumcision of your heart is an action that you can take right now at this moment. Go to the cross, see the loving and merciful sacrifice of Jesus Christ, see that “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). As you envision the Lamb of God slain to atone for the sins of the world, in repentance receive God’s grace and be saved (Ephesians 2:8 – 10). Be circumcised in the heart.
Grace and Peace to you.