“I wish those troublemakers who want to mutilate you with circumcision would mutilate themselves!” – Galatians 5:12 (NLT)
This is Paul laying it down, raw and unrefined. I don’t wish mutilation on anyone, but I appreciate Paul’s candor in moments of indignation.
Paul occasionally got cranky with two groups of church leaders: Those who required circumcision before following a Jewish savior and those who demanded circumcision after becoming a Jesus follower. For Paul, faith was enough. No other changes or requirements were necessary to authenticate conversion.
I wish that settled the issue once and for all.
Today, some church leaders require people to change their identity or the way they love before or after conversion. Like the troublemakers who drew Paul’s indignation, their focus is often on genitalia. That might make us cranky too. Echoing Paul, we might be inclined to retort, “I wish those troublemakers who want you to change would try changing themselves!” at those making such unnecessary, un-gospel demands.
When Paul calmed down (a few verses later) he made things crystal clear: “The only thing that matters is faith working through love.”
Gracious One, forgive us when we mutilate the gospel with our biases and fears.