Israel of God | Galatians 6:15-16
Galatians 6:15-16 | ESV [This Week’s Passage: Galatians 6:11-18]
15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
Mike’s Authorized Version (MAV)
To finally see straight is to see this: circumcision and being religious count for nothing – and neither does uncircumcision or being irreligious; all that matters is the New Creation, Kingdom come! To see this is to see everything. And for all who do see this and then walk it out, who walk out this line, this truth (you want to talk about keeping rules? Here’s the Rule to keep!): life restoring, soul mending, world healing peace upon them – and overflowing mercy! Now we’re talking Israel – the Israel of God.
“You can be replaced!” Sometimes we say that to each other when we are exasperated. Many suppose that God has said that about the Jewish people, that Israel has been replaced as the people of God by a primarily Gentile church (which Jews are welcome to join if they become Gentiles like us!). Others insist that Jews still have a primary status as God’s people alongside the Gentile church. Both are perhaps missing the point Paul is making here as he finishes out his “large letter” writing in this conclusion to Galatians: God doesn’t have two Israels, two peoples, two brides. On a foundational level there is, always has been, and always will be only one “Israel of God.” And it actually has nothing to do with ethnic ties, religious calendars or dietary rules; it’s not about the presence or absence of a foreskin but has everything to do with the presence of faith – a life-transforming trust that says “yes” to God as he calls us, like Abram, to step out of the familiar and pursue him into the unknown. Being “Israel” is not about meekly falling in line with religious demands, it’s about wrestling all night with the realities of God and Christ – and being marked with a limp from the struggle. Earlier in this letter, Paul called this “faith working through love.” Here he calls it a “new creation.” Kai-nay keh-tee-sis. It’s as foreign sounding in the Greek as the reality of “new creation” too often is among followers of Jesus. So easy for us to find ourselves endlessly traveling with the Galatians in the traffic circle of the old world of religion, rules, and performance. To be finally free of that roundabout is to find ourselves in the Israel of God and traveling the road of life-restoring, soul-mending, world-healing peace and mercy.
In what ways do you presently feel stuck in a roundabout? What is the key to finally getting out – to finally experiencing the “new creation”? What has this looked like for you?
Lord, show me the way out of the roundabout I find myself in – or the one that will try to pull me into its pointless cycles today. Keep me traveling free along the highway of your mercy and peace. Unfold your new creation in me. Just a bit more of it. Today. Through Jesus.
For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.