Not to Conform or Rebel
Paul challenged the Galatians to resist the temptation to conform to the norms of the day -- to become circumcised to prove that they are just like Jewish Christians. Part of the freedom of Christ is the freedom to be who God has created people to be, not to conform to a set of human expectations of what it means to be God's.
It's hard to stand out. I think we're hard-wired to conform. Or we learn to resist conforming by becoming intentionally rebellious -- doing all we can to put people off. Maybe there's a third option. Maybe instead of blind conformation or angry rebellion, we can choose what's best for us, what's best for those around us, and what's best for God, even when our choices are not like others, or even when they are. Maybe we can stand in the center, doing what we can to follow God's calling for our life -- not to follow others' callings, or reject our calling, but to stand firm in who we are and in how God created us.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Galatians 5:2-15
Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.