The Grinch of Political Correctness
Scripture Text: Galatians 6:11-18
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 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. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.
From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
The Grinch of political correctness of which I speak now is a very particular Grinch. This Grinch steals, not the presents and the decorations and the food, but the manger scene. He can allow anything except Jesus as the reason for the season.
The Apostle Paul gave his life spreading the news about Jesus Christ and him crucified and calling people to faith in Christ. The very notion that a church or a Christian would veer away from this message to some other message was horrifying to him.
Any time I receive a personal note written in long hand, I am impressed, even if it is very short. It’s so much easier to send an email than it is to write a letter with a pen, write an address on an envelope, put a stamp on it, and put it in the mail.
Paul is telling his friends that he is not sending them a mass email. This is a very personal communication.
Paul speaks again about the people who are trying to discount Jesus and hide him in the back of the store. He suggests that they have three evil motives: 1) the need to impress people, 2) the fear of persecution for Christ, and 3) the replacement of grace with religious tradition.
I want to give you three goals to defeat to this Grinch that steals Christmas and keep Christ in the center of your season.
Please God—Don’t Try to Impress People
"Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised."
- Jesus lived a life that pleased the Father in heaven. God announced this to the world at Jesus’ baptism: “You are my Son whom I love. With you I am well-pleased” (Luke 3:22).
- Peter and John were confronted with this choice almost immediately after they went public with their faith. The authorities arrested them and tried to silence them. Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!” (Acts 4:18-19).
- In regard to your daily work, be a God-pleaser, not a man-pleaser. Colossians 3:23-24: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
- Paul is teaching this truth now in regard to how you understand and talk about your faith. We do want them to know how wonderful the good news is. But we don’t want to configure the vocabulary and expression of our faith so that it pleases people.
- We are talking here about a life orientation, a goal that you have in your mind and heart that you never forget, that you keep always before you: “whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
Deny Yourself—Don’t Work to Avoid Ridicule or Persecution
"The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ."
- The cross of Christ is the point of offense. Why? Why is the cross the flashpoint of resistance to the gospel?
- The cross is where the Jewish rulers sent Jesus to die. The teachers who are trying to avoid the cross in Galatia are Jewish in their previous religion and ethnicity. They don’t want to abandon Judaism. In fact, they think that Judaism is essential to salvation. They believe that the way to heaven is through Jerusalem, as my Zionist guide told me last time I was in Israel.
- The cross indicates how truly sinful we humans are. Here we see the depth of our depravity and our offense against God. The cross is the reminder that we were in a very deep place and that we could not save ourselves. We were helpless, hopelessly lost without Christ. The cross was necessary only because people like you and me are universally sinful and turn away from God.
- The cross indicates the supremacy of Christ. If we are saved through God’s work at Calvary, then Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord of all.
- The cross is God’s instruction for my continued existence on this planet. If God’s perfect Son went to the cross, then the cross belongs to me also.
- Jesus said well before his own crucifixion: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
- Paul has talked about being “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20). This is how he describes taking up your cross daily.
- I have already died with Christ, according to the Scriptures. When I go into the waters of baptism, I am buried with Christ.
- Any affliction that comes to me now is light and not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17—“light affliction”).
Embrace Your Identity as a New Creation: Forget Your Supposed Religious Superiority
"Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God."
- We all want to come off as the best of the best of the best. We want our religion to be seen for what it is—the highest moral standing on the planet. The Jews wanted this also. That is why they are insisting on circumcision. Paul comes back to this theme because it is religious systems that remain in competition with faith in Christ in every generation and every place on Planet Earth.
- Boasting in self rather than in Christ is the end result of suggesting by word or deed that you are saved through your religious traditions or values.
- We have to forget this line of thinking. We are in Christ for our salvation—a personal relationship not a religious connection. Any emphasis that discounts Christ in favor of some human system or activity is opposed to the Gospel.
- This is the Good News: “Christ died for our sins.”
- “The world is crucified to me” means that all of my previous reputation and everything I trusted in has gone by the wayside. I am now resting in a brand new place—in the grace of God made available to me through the work of Christ. I am not primarily trying to advance in this world, although I do not antagonize the world unnecessarily. I want to live at peace with all people.
- I crucified to the world. The world is the system out there. Now that I am in Christ, the world may not have any use for me, just as they had no use for Jesus. I must be comfortable with this status as a “stranger and alien” in the world. That is who I am. My allegiance is the Christ alone as supreme. All other allegiances in my life are secondary to this one supreme allegiance—Jesus Christ alone is Lord in me.
- I refuse to be sidetracked from Grace into Law. I understand through the cross of Christ that there is only one way to the Father. Jesus is the way. Everything else is decoration.
- The Grinch that often steals Christmas is our half-hearted devotion to Christ in the first place. We are not sold out to him the other 364 days, so Christmas is really no different. What Christ calls us to is a laying down of our lives so that his life might be made apparent to the world through us. This is our greatest Christmas gift to this world—the life of Christ made visible.