Politics of the Kingdom (II)

Pastoral Reflections

One of the controversial moments in Apostle Paul’s ministry came at the beginning of Acts 16 when he took young Timothy and circumcised him. (Acts 16:1-3)
Anyone who has spent any time reading Paul will pause with surprise at that move. No one knew more passion than Paul when it came to the Gospel that salvation is not by outward religious rituals (including circumcision), but by grace in Christ received through faith.
This tells us something else about Paul. The reason he circumcised Timothy was not so Timothy can become saved. He already was! Rather, realizing Timothy’s unique background (he was bi-racial with a Jewish mother and Greek father), Paul understood that Timothy’s ministry to the Jews will be impeded, once they confirmed he was uncircumcised. In other words, uncircumcised Timothy can only do ministry limited to Gentiles when, by having a Jewish parent, the doors of his message could have been open to all.
Paul did not circumcise Timothy to get him to become saved. He circumcised Timothy to make his impact in the Kingdom less limited.
I think Paul models a deeper lesson for us here. Think about it – if we didn’t have this story, with everything else we read of Paul, we would have been tempted to put him in a camp. The No-Circumcision camp! But, by his action, Paul demonstrated that the politics of the Kingdom trumped all that – even some theological camps. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is really the final goal, but the flourishing of the Gospel.
In Kingdom diplomacy, we begin with the question, “What’s at stake for God’s Kingdom and purpose?” I do not undermine our various other individual passions or positions. Please, do not misunderstand me. But like Paul, when the chips are down and the affairs of our eternal homeland are at stake; its message, its community, its opportunities, its life, its power, it’s furtherance – we offer ourselves to its supreme purpose.
Donald Nwankwo
The Light of Christ Anglican Church
4000 W. Yale Ave.
Denver, CO 80219