“May I never boast except in the cross of our LORD Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.”-Galatians 6:14-15
School is back in session! Parents at campuses across the country have been posting pictures of their kids on social media feeds, college kids are moving in to the dorm, teachers were #clearingthelist of school supplies they needed for class, professors were sharpening lecture notes for the first week. The middle of August is is almost like the holidays in terms of intensity, and the joys and sorrows that come with a new school year. It is interesting then, to come upon this text as we get in to the new year. Why?
To be circumcised was a big thing in the Jewish faith in that era. In Joshua 5:2-10, the Lord orders Joshua to circumcise the nation of Israel to “roll away the disgrace of Egypt”. If you wanted to remove shame, then suffering pain was the way to do so! There were other functions for circumcision as well, yet the contrast to Galatians is striking. Paul says that regardless if a follower of Christ is circumcised or not, it does not matter. What matters is if we are “new creations.” Paul literally means “new character.”
So the challenge to all supplemental and education staff and students is this: what makes you go to school? Paul says may the day be cursed if he says anything about but the Cross. This means we can not only enjoy sports, school, friends, etc: it means we can cut ourselves some slack when we don’t. Why? Because the reason why we go to school is now changed. Its not just for the degree, friends, cleared lists, or STAAR scores. We go to school because we love Christ. Our success is His glory, our failures is His shame. For years, educators across the spectrum have searched for an answer to the question: “How can we motivate students and staff to enjoy campus/school life?” With Christ taking our shame, and providing His power for our success, Christians believe that search is over.
John Thomas is a Pastor at Carroll Springs United Methodist Church