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.
Boasting. It’s a huge part of what we all do every day. We all hold up something that proves that we are worth it. That we deserve to exist. That we’re valuable in some way. The pictures on our walls, the framed diplomas, our bookshelves, our social media feed. We boast about our accomplishments and even our failures (see how authentic I am). We “humble brag” (please pray for me, my math class at Harvard is so hard). And we boast about what other people have done, claiming it as our own glory – our kids, our favorite team, the politician we voted for. Mostly we boast about our ability to keep the law. Maybe not the Law of Moses. But all the lesser laws we put ourselves under every day. Mom laws. Dad laws. Student laws. Career laws. Coolness laws. Woke laws. Conservative laws. Liberal laws. And, of course, church laws.
And then we read Galatians 6:14 – far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Think for a moment about the shocking paradox of Paul’s statement- boast in the cross. Death by crucifixion was never 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 human history, to wipe them from the world’s collective memory. Families whose relative was crucified would literally remove the person from their genealogy. The crucified were buried in unmarked mass graves. They weren’t just criminals. They were sub-human.
How strange that as Christians we are making our boast, our glory, our honor, the most shameful thing ever invented- the cross. How can this be? Two reasons:
First, the cross of Christ is itself the proof that as humans we have nothing else to boast in. There is only one means of salvation for everyone on earth. Jesus wasn’t crucified for the really bad people, but beheaded painlessly for the nicer people. No. The cross makes us all criminals. We are all equally guilty under the law. No one is righteous, no not one.
Second, we boast in the cross because by it the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Our co-crucifixion with Christ was an apocalyptic event. By it we have been freed from our bondage to the world. All of the world’s power systems, principles, laws, divisions, and hierarchies that once held our hearts hostage are now dead to us and in us. And in their place is a brand new creation. A new creation of love, equality, freedom, grace, and peace. There is nothing left in this world in which we place our hope. The world is dead to us. It has no power over us. Which doesn’t mean that we avoid the world, quite the opposite. Because the world is crucified to me, and I am free from the world’s power, I can now actually enjoy the world simply for what it is. When you no longer worship the world you are free to love, serve, and enjoy the world. Work is just work, it’s not my life. Play is just play, it’s not my life. Marriage is just marriage, it’s not my life. My kids are just my kids, they’re not my life. Now everything in the world can be held with an open hand. The Lord gives. The Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
“To live is Christ” means my only boast, my only honor, my only glory 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. Anything that I accomplish, any act of loving service, any deed of heroism, any courageous walk, any truth spoken, any grace given, or any act of faith, it’s all from Christ alone. He is the new creation that lives in me. Now by his cross and his new creation I can live in love for others too.
What do you find yourself boasting in lately?
You in Christ
How can trusting your union with Christ free you from boasting in anything other than him?
Christ in you
How can you live from your crucifixion to the world today? How can you enjoy the world without fearing or worshiping it?
Playlist: Boasting in the cross.