Galatians 6:14-15. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
There’s all kinds of boasting that we do everyday. We boast in everything from our accomplishments to our failures. From our righteousness to our “authentic lives.” From our religiosity to our spirituality. And especially (like the Galatians) our law keeping.
Think about the shocking paradox of Paul’s statement- boast in the cross. This may be the biggest irony ever. Death by crucifixion was never, ever, ever something to boast in. In fact the whole purpose of crucifixion was to affix so much shame and disgrace to the victim so as to literally remove them from history, to wipe them from the world’s collective memory. Families whose relative was crucified would remove the person from their genealogy. Victims were buried in unmarked mass graves. They were viewed as less than human.
How strange that as Christians we are making our boast, our glory, our joy the most shameful thing ever invented- the cross. Why? How? What is it about the cross that makes it the thing we boast in?
First, it is the very proof that we have nothing else to boast in. We all need the cross for our salvation. No one could be good enough, smart enough, legal enough, or innocent enough to obtain eternal life without it. The cross makes us all criminals. All are equal at its foot.
Second, we boast in the cross because by it the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. The cross destroyed the power of the old world and created a whole new one. The cross was apocalyptic. All of the old powers, systems, laws, divisions, and hierarchies are being destroyed. In their place is a brand new creation. A new world of love, equality, freedom, grace, and peace awaits us. There is nothing left in this world’s system in which I place my hope. It is dead to me. It has no power over me. Which actually means not that I avoid the world, but the opposite. Because the world is crucified to me I am now free to enjoy the world simply for what it is. As Tim Keller says, we no longer have to fear or worship the world (Galatians For You).
Finally, we boast in the cross because the crucified life is the new creation. Anything that I accomplish, any act of loving service, any deed of heroism, any courageous walk, any truth spoken, any grace given, or act of faith is all from Christ alone. He is the new creation that lives in me making me the new creation. Now I can live in sacrifice for others too.
“To live is Christ” means my only boast, my only joy, my only life is the cross of Christ. I have done nothing to save myself. I have no ability to produce righteousness in myself. I have no hope apart from my co-crucifixion with Christ. All other boasting is eliminated.
What do you find yourself boasting in? Do you see yourself being freed from boasting in things other than Christ? Do you enjoy the world without fearing or worshipping it? Do you see yourself as helpless without the cross of Christ?