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This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” – Genesis 17:10-14
I don’t like to say no. It’s most likely because I want everyone to like me. I want people to think well of me, and I figure if I say no, I’ll disappoint people. I know I should be more willing to say no when necessary. I also know that having everyone like you is neither possible nor healthy. So I work on it. But I still would rather say yes, find a way to make things happen, open doors, and allow access than say no.
Not long ago I learned the trick of the positive no. It goes like this: “I think your idea is quite interesting, and in another setting it might really work well. But since we’re dedicated to ______, and this would undercut that, we’ll not be able to agree to it.” It’s a long way of saying no. Sometimes you just have to say no.
There are sticking points of Scripture that I would rather not deal with. Issues around truth and salvation, condemnation, and judgment. Truth around issues of the day like sexuality, marriage, and the exclusive nature of salvation only through Jesus. I would rather that everyone simply believed what the Bible says, and was willing to accept the authority of Scripture and of God.
Sadly, however, that’s not the case. Plenty of people – even those who claim to follow Jesus – trot out their personal spin on items of faith and life. As a colleague once said, “People like to use the Bible to justify whatever they want to do.” Ugh.
But in the case of the covenant of God’s grace, there is a very simple line: You’re in or you’re out. In the case of Abraham and the people of the Old Testament, it’s all about circumcision. In the case of you and me, it’s all about our baptismal faith. Do you believe, trust, hope in, and wait for the eternal blessings of Jesus? Do you believe he is your righteousness? Are you baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do you repent daily and daily drown the old nature? Do you rely on God’s grace in Jesus? It’s that simple.
But sadly there are those who do not believe. They dismiss the idea that they are sinners in need of redemption. They refuse to acknowledge that they must give an account to God. They reject the idea that there will be a judgment day. They deny the grace of God because they don’t believe they need it. They remove themselves from the Covenant of God’s grace.
I’d rather that was not true. But I don’t have the last say here. God does. And thankfully his last word is centered in the forgiveness of sins, the hope of the resurrection, and the promise of the life of the world to come. These come through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the part I really like!