A Sign that we Belong to God?

circumcision of Isaac

I visited some folks in the jail today.  One person I visited cried through my entire visit with her.  She longed to know that God forgives her and that God loves her.

That gets me wondering…. How might God try to convince a people that they belong to Him?

Many centuries ago God came up with a rather peculiar sign to indicate to Abraham and his descendants that He cared for them and that they belonged to Him.  That sign was circumcision—the cutting off of the foreskin of a man’s penis.  Why would God come up with that as a sign that people belonged to Him?

In his book about the value of Sabbath, The Rest of God, Mark Buchanan writes,

“To be circumcised is to be wounded in a place of intimacy and vulnerability.  It is to permit, even invite an act of violence—a sharp knife, a painful cut, a bloody removal—in that part of a man he otherwise most guards and hides.  It is also the part he most intimately joins with a woman.  Circumcision is being scarred in a place of deep identity, where a man understands himself to be a man.  It is being wounded at the only source where a man can create life.  Many parts of a man’s anatomy are useful: with his mind he imagines, with his hands he devises, with his feet he deploys.  A man can create many things, but only in this one place can he create life.  It is here the knife is applied.

“The scar, the wound, sets this man apart: it says that here, even here, especially here, he is a marked man.  He is one who belongs to God.” (P. 96)

If I understand correctly some of what Buchanan is getting at here, he is telling me that circumcision is submitting to God the parts of my life that I most want to hide from others, and it is entrusting to God the parts of my life where I feel most vulnerable and that I try to guard most fearfully.  And circumcision is surrendering to God the areas of my life where I tend to find my sense of identity.  And circumcision is the recognition that the making of life is under the sovereignty of God.  Moreover, circumcision reveals that God desires nothing less than intimate relationship with us.

In the website “The Thirsty Theologian,” David Kjos adds,

“I believe circumcision demonstrates the depth of intimacy God wants to have with his people. He wants such an intimate connection with us that he put the physical mark of his covenant with us in the most intimate possible place. Furthermore, the removal of the foreskin represents the uncovering of our most hidden parts. Think about it: even when a man is entirely naked, his most private part is still covered by his foreskin. Only under the most intimate of circumstances is he entirely exposed, and then only to the one with whom the intimacy is shared. God wants that degree of intimacy with us.”

Many centuries ago, in His care for us, God gave a sign to people to let them know that they belonged to Him.  Later, Jesus gave His life for us to provide greater evidence of the depth of His love for us.

After Jesus’ death, God gave a new sign to us so that we can know that we belong to Him.  Ephesians 1:13b-14 tells us, “Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory.”  God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us in our evidence that God loves us and that we belong to Him.

God also provides a sign by which others can know that we belong to Him.  Previously, a man would have to lift up his robe to display that he belonged to God.  Now we have a different way to reveal that we belong to Christ.  In John 13:35, Jesus states, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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