You want me to do what? Couldn’t we just shake hands?

God is talking with Abraham, making a covenant with him and his descendants. God says:

Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.

A covenant is a contract. In ancient times people would sacrifice an animal as a sign of the pact they made. They would divide the animal in two, and each would walk between the two halves, sealing the deal. God had already done that with Abraham, but Abraham did not walk through the sacrificed animals, only God did in the form of a smoking fire pot and a burning torch. God promised, by Himself, to keep the deal He made with His people.

Now God is asking Abraham to make an outward sign of this deal in his flesh, and the flesh of his descendants.

It would be great if it were that simple with God. Maybe as Christians, as people of the new covenant, we should place a fish bumper sticker on our cars, or wear a gold chain with a cross. Would people know then that we are Jesus’ people, people of the covenant?

That’s unlikely. How many times do we see people carrying the outward signs of Christianity, only to disappoint by their actions? It was the same with Abraham and his descendants who carried the sign of the covenant in their flesh, but neglected to carry the sign of the covenant in their hearts.

To be truly circumcised means to carry the gospel in the way we live, talk, act, feel, treat others, pray, worship, and … well in everything we do. Yes, the outward signs of our Christianity ARE important. That is our proclamation. Our proclamation must be coupled with our witness, with hearts that live what the outward signs represent.