Unmasked | Galatians 6:12-13
Galatians 6:12-13 | ESV [This Week’s Passage: Galatians 6:11-18]
12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
Mike’s Authorized Version (MAV)
Let’s revisit these troublemakers one more time. What do they really want? What are they really after? They’re all show, all externals, all outward appearance. And so why this obsessive fixation with circumcision? Why so knife-happy? Why so insistent on seeing you go under that knife? One reason and only one when it all comes down to it: they want to avoid the razor-sharp judgment, the hounding criticism of a religious culture that is totally scandalized by the cross of Christ and what it represents. You disagree? You think it’s out of sincere desire to obey God? Here’s the undeniable truth: those who zealously hold the line on circumcision fail miserably when it comes to actually living out the Law it represents. But they turn around and insist on you being circumcised and becoming just like them so they can, quite literally hold up their “pound of flesh” as a religious trophy for their wall. They’re counting coup! All show. All externals. All outward performance. Pathetic. Nauseating.
Religion can be such a bloody business of self-promotion via hacking away on or at people as a means of ingratiating ourselves to others. Pettiness and pride so frequently masquerade as piety. As Paul finishes up this letter with his own hand, he first writes large letters about the Galatian troublemakers and in doing so pulls off the mask. What from all appearances looked like hunger for God and thirst for obedience is revealed to be little more than a religious quest for personal achievement and the ultimate ego trip – or at the very least a mere effort to save their own skin (even as they literally cut into the skin of others). Ah, but this is the risky thing we do when we start removing masks. To tinker with the masks of others is to invite attention to our own. At its root, this is the heart of what “hypocrisy” really is. Hypocrisy isn’t saying one thing and doing another. That’s actually called humanity. Hypocrisy is wearing a mask on the stage of life and playing a role. Too often, what we know as “church” is the ultimate stage performance with masks aplenty. Unholy masquerade. To truly be in Christ is to experience the ultimate unmasking. It’s as if in these final lines, Paul is saying, “Look at their mask. Now look at my face.”
What mask or masks do you wear – and where do you feel you have to wear them?
Jesus, free me from the masks I feel compelled to wear! Let me with unveiled face gaze into yours – and let me not be afraid to show it. In your name.
For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.