For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. Titus 1:10 (NIV).
History matters. It’s pretty difficult to understand how Jesus fulfills everything about the Old Testament without understanding the history of the Old Testament and why things were the way they were. And it’s pretty tough to understand what Paul means when he’s talking about “meaningless talk and deception” and “the circumcision group” and how that affects one’s belief as a follower of Jesus Christ.
What does having a man’s foreskin sliced off have to do with believing in Jesus? It’s everything and nothing. Circumcision was given – and directed – to mankind as a way for men to remember God’s devotion to them. So that they would know God is with them in the most private, intimate of places in their lives, God commanded Abraham to circumcise everyone in his race. There were spiritual, medical, hygienic, and physical reasons for all this yet the message to man was still the same: (from God) I am yours and you’re marked as mine. No matter what anyone does or says, God is ALWAYS present even in our proudest and most personal moments.
Sort of like now. In Romans, Paul talks about how a Christian’s circumcision is of the heart, how God marks us from within. The old covenant has been replaced by a new one. God’s Son Himself would cut away the sheath around our hearts and reside within. From now on, it would be God working from the heart – and the words and actions emanating from it – that would make new believers. There would still be those who insist on putting rules and boundaries around our faith, but those wouldn’t be able to touch God where He truly lives. Or harm us there.
Because, then as now, the world is full of people who rebel against that, ridicule it, try to pull people away from it. Most of our world doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ. Most of the world isn’t circumcised ‘downstairs’ or inside. Six of seven billion people either don’t care or don’t know about the man from Galilee. And among those who do know Him, there is internal dissention, disagreement, discord, and disunion on just who He is and a host of other largely meaningless issues; don’t this, don’t that. Don’t. Really. Matter.
Because He still is. He’s still the Son of God. He’s still a person in the Trinity. He’s still the Way, the truth and the life, and the only path to God. Because He still circumcises those He marks as His own.
It would be difficult at best to understand these things without knowing why circumcision originally mattered. History matters because He still does.
For further reading: John 14:6, Romans 2:29, Acts 10:45, 1 Timothy 1:6, Titus 1:11
Lord God, thank You for the gift of circumcision, both its original meaning and Your circumcision of the heart.