I imagine many of us watched the Super Bowl last night. I loved that it was a close game with both teams giving their all. In football the officials have an important job – trying to impose instant penalties for any infraction of a long list of rules. They are well versed in the game of football and are expected to understand and lookout for even the tiniest violation. Sterling Moore may or may not have gotten away with pass interference in the game (depending on whose side you’re on). But we can rest assured that God sees every infraction in our lives, even when a penalty is not immediately assessed. (Come on, I had to work in a football analogy!)
Prior to the sacrifice of Jesus the only way to be a part of God’s covenant was to be among the citizen of Israel; and to convert would involve many things – one of which would be circumcision. It’s hard for me as a woman to completely understand what it would take to go that far for my beliefs, but I can imagine that it would be pretty drastic! You can understand why there were many “God-fearers” in New Testament time who did not fully take the plunge!
The thing about circumcision is that it was a physical and permanent reminder of the covenant between you and God. It was an intimate sign that bound the people of Israel together and set them apart from other cultures. Those who were not Jewish were excluded from Jewish life and worship and had no natural access to the message of God's redemption. Even if they wanted to worship the one true God at the Temple they could approach no further than the Court of the Gentiles, a place crowded with street vendors and people short cutting through the city.
But even the most pious Jew fell short of God’s law. And the sacrifices of atonement did not fully cover sins. Only the blood of Christ accomplished that. As we follow him our hearts are circumcised as the unrepentant parts are carved away. When we remember what we were without Christ or ponder what we would be without him we should be filled with gratitude to be counted a part of God’s covenant people. To be without hope and without God would be an awful fate.
Without God there is for mankind no purpose, no goal, no hope, only a wavering future, an eternal dread of every darkness. – Jean Paul