As we continue in the Season of Lent and approach Holy Week with Easter Sunday as our destination on March 31st, I find myself drawn to the following words of the Apostle Paul from the biblical book of Galatians:
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith made effective through love.” ~ (Galatians 5:6)
“For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who follow this rule – peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” ~ (Galatians 6:15-16)
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Christians in Galatia in order to remind them of the New Covenant of God through Christ, based on God’s universal grace, not on works prescribed by the law of the Old Testament. He reminded them that the New Testament of Christ fulfills all the covenants and promises of the Old Testament for all people everywhere, not just for Jesus’ fellow Jewish people.
God’s covenants and promises to Israel are to extend to all people by God’s grace. The “Israel of God” (the universal Israel of Galatians 6:16) is absolutely everyone who has faith in the Lord: Jew and Gentile, male and female, black and white, gay and straight, Democrat and Republican, and so on (see Galatians 3:28).
In both Galatians and Romans, the Apostle Paul writes that all people are “heirs” of God’s covenant promises to Abraham by God’s grace through faith. From Galatians 3 and Romans 3, we hear that all people of faith are “descendants of Abraham” and “heirs according to the promise” by “the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all who believe.” And “through the faith of Jesus Christ” means his way of faith and way of life — his way of inclusive grace and radical love.
Therefore, even the promised blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant are now extended to all people of faith according to God’s grace, not by works prescribed by the law. In other words, the Abrahamic inheritance given to the Hebrews of the Old Testament is now renewed and broadened to include all people through Jesus-like faith.
Consequently, the Apostle Paul declares that all distinctions (circumcision and uncircumcision, Jew and Gentile, etc.) are nothing, and they count for nothing. All that matters now is the “new creation” coming into being by the power of God’s all-pervading grace and all-encompassing love revealed to the world through Jesus Christ!
During the Season of Lent we travel through the wilderness to the edge of the land of promise; during Holy Week we proclaim to the world that the sacrificial love of Christ our Lord has set in motion “a new creation” of God.
Like Joshua in the Old Testament who led the ancient Israelites into the land of Canaan, Jesus (Yeshua) is the New Joshua who leads us into the New Creation for all people.
Through Christ’s way of faith and life, therefore, we see all of heaven and earth as the promise land for all people and we see all those who trust in God as the universal Israel of God. In addition, Jesus’ way of faith and life is really the way of faith and life of Father Abraham.
“For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” ~ (Romans 4:16-17)
Yes, as Christians, we believe and declare that “a new creation” is everything to us! Our faith is all about the new — the New Universal Covenant and the New Universal “Promised Land” of the New Age and New World Order of God’s grace and love, heralded and set in motion by the New Universal Joshua (Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior).
Over this Lent and Holy Week, may we be renewed and reinvigorated by the gospel message that “a new creation is everything” and that “the only thing that counts is faith made effective through love.” AMEN.
Good Lent & Happy Easter!!!