“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died. It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God” (Galatians 6:14-16).
The Apostle Paul was writing to the Galatian church about legalists who wanted every man circumcised so legalists could brag about the number of men circumcised. He was preaching the message that we are saved by faith through grace and not by any work of man.
As Paul comes to the end of his letter to the Galatians, he says, “I only brag about Christ and His cross. The world has died to me and I to the world.”
How many people who claim to be Christians can say that the world has no attraction to them? It seems that many that claim to be Christians, are just as enamored with the world as people who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Many who attend Christian churches and who believe that they are Christians are trying hard to do what counts for God. They work for the church, they help people in need, and often they will volunteer for good causes. They do what the church teaches them to do to be a good Christian. In Paul’s day that meant the leaders wanted them to be circumcised. Today it may be some other religious practice.
Paul not only said the world is dead to me, and I am dead to the world, but what really counts with God is to be transformed into a new creation. When we meet Jesus in a personal and real way, we begin to change from the inside out.
If our experience with God is mostly trying to be something we are told to be, without the power to change, we have not experienced the transforming power of a God who loves us with an unconditional and overwhelming love. We need to seek Christ for that transformation that He promised.
What counts with God is being transformed into a new creation. Jesus said you must be born again, not in the flesh like we were born the first time, but born from above, born in the Spirit to a new life in God.
God makes you a new person, gives you a new perspective, and gives you a new kind of love. He gives you power to change things that were not what God wants in your life. God changed Saul from a persecutor of Christians to Paul the greatest evangelist and teacher in the Bible.
When we experience what Paul describes here, transformation into a new creation, we are able to deny ourselves and follow Christ. We are able to die to the world and let the world die to us. We are able to stop trying to please God in our own efforts, by our own works, and walk in the assurance of His love by His grace alone.
“What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation.”
Rev. Paul McKibben is pastor of Grace Community Church in Osage.