Our walk with Christ is marked by our taking up the “easy” yoke that he gives us and allowing our hearts to be circumcised by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 2:25-29).
The ancient Israelites had to learn this lesson. It was not enough to undergo physical circumcision, to have a portion of their bodies removed as a sign of their covenant relationship with God. Their hearts also needed to be circumcised.
Likewise, it is not enough for us to perform endless rituals if our hearts are not circumcised – that is, set apart – for God. This needs to happen before we can experience the spiritual and physical blessings of our lives with God, where he walks among us.
Our hearts must be circumcised.
The uncircumcised heart walks “contrary” to God. It rebels. Over and over, it hears warnings and sees warnings and learns God’s ways, and over and over, it goes in the opposite direction. The uncircumcised heart looks not, as Paul said, to the ways and the “praise” of the world – but only to God (Romans 2:29).
The blessings and curses for Christians are not altogether different than those put forward by God for the ancient Israelites in Leviticus 26. On one hand is everlasting peace. On the other is certain destruction – “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:31-46).
The difference may be in the way these blessings come to us. Jesus said physical prosperity may be delayed for his followers. We may face forces that speak and act against us. This does not mean there is no physical blessing for the children of God. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12).
Our physical blessings – reserved for those with circumcised hearts – will only come in fullness at the resurrection of the dead. And so we put our hope in the return of Christ.
In the meantime, nothing stops us from receiving the spiritual blessings of God. God reminded the Israelites he brought them out of the land of Egypt. He set them free. “And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.”
Jesus makes the same promise to us. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
And so our walk with Christ is indeed marked by our taking up the “easy” yoke that Jesus gives us and allowing our hearts to be circumcised by the Holy Spirit. All it takes is faith. Out of that faith comes a stubborn resistance to setting ourselves apart for anything or anyone other than God (James 4:7-8).