The Great Disconnect: Romans 2:25-29
“25) For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 26) So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27) And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? 28) For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29) But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2:25-29
We as people like achievement and accomplishment. We like external goals and checking things off our bucket list. Once completed, we can forget our task and move on celebrating the fact that we’ve arrived.
But the spiritual life is very different. It is about “being” and not “doing.” It is “inward” and not “outward.” Paul argues in this text that a person can go through the physical act of being circumcised and still be a bad person. God is interested in changing the heart and attitudes and not merely completing a ceremony.
This became “The Great Disconnect” for the Jewish people in keeping the Law. They were good at conforming outwardly, but they had morally bankrupt character inwardly. They kept the letter of the Law but had no clue about the spirit of the Law.
Paul closes this chapter by arguing that he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, but he is a Jew who is transformed inwardly. (See Romans 2:28-29)
I fear that the same “Great Disconnect” has been carried over into Christianity. Going through the ceremony of baptism, confirmation, first communion or catechism can be good if it is properly taught and understood, but for the most part it has become an empty external ceremony. It has become an outward ritual that does little to change the inward person. It leaves people with a false assurance.
In the broader context of Romans 1-3, Paul is saying that empty religious ceremonies leave people lost. If the inner person has not been changed by the Spirit of God, conversion has not happened. We have accomplished nothing but perpetuated the Great Disconnect.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global