“Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.”Galatians 6:14
How is it that the cross of Jesus Christ crucifies Paul to the world and the world to Paul? Why should Paul glory in this? First, let’s think about what is included in the phrase, “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I submit that here Paul means primarily the cross of Jesus Christ as he himself shares in it – that is, his own suffering in union with the Lord.
If this is what Paul means, then the cross is that suffering which through the grace of Christ detaches our hearts from the world (from “created things”), freeing up our hearts to become attached to God. If this is the effect of the cross, then it is appropriate to say that it crucifies the world to us, and us to the world. And that is clearly something to be gloried in.
Immediately before this passage, Paul says,
For even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh.Galatians 6:13
For those people Paul here speaks of, that which is worth glorying in is not that which detaches us from the world and attaches us to God, but in circumcision, which gives an external appearance of belonging to God. Perhaps (Paul seems to suggest) if they kept the law, the external appearance would be inconsequential; but they do not keep the law.
In the passage immediately after our original one, Paul confirms this thought, saying,
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.Galatians 6:15
External appearances of godliness are not decisive, but internal faith and hope are. It is by these that children of God are made, and a new world is made.
The New Creation
This creation of a new world (“new creation”) is carried out by God in our current world through the cross of Christ and the grace that flows abundantly from it. In anticipation of his cross and the new creation it would accomplish, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32). The world, and all of history, including the personal histories of each individual human being, is changed forever and given meaning by the cross and resurrection of the Son of God. Christ judges the world, casting out its ruler, the deceiver and evil one, making all things new. Suffering and death, which were effects of evil, he has made the entryway into life: “Truly, truly, I say to you,” he says, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The heart, through suffering, is made to detach itself from fixation on shallow, empty, and passing things—things that have worth only in relation to greater realities. The greatest reality is our loving Creator; so, our hearts should be fixed on Him.
We can explain these things when sharing the Gospel with others. To the person we meet on the street, we can say, “God is renewing the world from within people’s hearts, by His grace. He is making a new creation, through the Cross of Jesus. God is doing this for everyone, and for you in particular. He loves you individually as if you were the only one in the world. Do you recognize this hidden work of the Christ within you? Do you have the eyes to see? You can accept God’s grace—the free gift of His life—and persevere in it to the end; or you can delay and resist until the end. God the Father asks each of us to repent of our sins, to believe in Him, and to become His child, a disciple of Jesus Christ His Son. God cannot be outdone in generosity—it is well worth it.”
Why not try to share the gospel in some way similar to this? If you do, please share your experience in the comments section of this post. Either way, you may share your comments or questions about this approach to preaching the gospel. We’d love to hear from you!
Even those who receive circumcision do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may glory in your flesh. But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.Galatians 6:13-15