Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. Galatians 5:11
Keep in mind that the trouble in Galatia had started with Judaizers insisting that Christians be circumcised (adhering to old Jewish custom). In challenging Paul, they recalled how he had insisted his protégé, Timothy, be circumcised years before, when Paul and Timothy were evangelizing specifically to Jews. Wasn’t Paul being hypocritical, saying the circumcision has no meaning?
No. Paul always insisted that he would do whatever was necessary, including being all things to all people, to preach the Gospel. If that meant observing other holidays, he would do that. If it meant abstaining from foods, he would do that. And if it meant wearing traditional clothing, observing practices, or performing certain rituals, so long as they did not dishonor or defame Jesus, Paul was willing to do anything to spread the Good News of Christ. Even circumcision.
Knowing that, what does Paul mean when he says, “the offense of the cross has been abolished”? One site, https://endofthematter.com/2015/11/what-was-the-offense-of-the-cross/, puts it this way: “In conclusion, the offense of the cross is not just the fact that Jesus died on the cross, but that it cuts to the root of human merit in the matter of justification, whether in the form of legal observance, or holy dispositions, or good work.” The offense of the cross was that it disproved doing things to “earn” salvation. The cross worked.
But there’s more. If our form of worship, or vestments, or hymns, or anything becomes about anything other than worshipping the Lord, then then we are offensive to the cross. We’re slandering what Jesus did, insisting that we put our faith in traditions and things instead of just Jesus.
Admit it: you’ve done this. I have. For years, I thought you couldn’t have a worship service unless you had a gloria patri, kyrie, and the Lord’s Prayer. I thought you had to wear your best clothes at all times, and that you should speak one way in church and another outside. I honestly thought following Jesus meant giving up more in life than it gained. How foolish all that seems now.
I was wrong to put more faith in those things than in Jesus. I was wrong, sort of like Paul. After all, while convincing Galatians to believe, Paul also wished painful emasculation on the wrongdoer. There’s a better way, a more faithful way. Instead of being wrapped around the axle, the better way involves being willing to lay those things aside and do whatever is necessary to advance Jesus, talk about His sacrifice, give Him praise in whatever form it takes.
For further reading: Luke 2:34, Romans 9:32-33, Galatians 5:12
Lord, let me follow You, do anything for You, praise You in all ways, be all things to anyone.
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