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Wednesday - Forced



Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.


Galatians 2:3


No one, and I mean no one likes to be forced to do anything. Period. We’ll push back. Dig our heels in. Run away. Find a back door and sneak out. Anything but to be backed into a corner where there’s no way out.


Think back to a time when people tried to force you into a corner. When they wanted you to do what they wanted. When they put pressure on you to act or speak in a certain way. As we recall these very unpleasant times, I bet our stomachs start to gurgle with tension. The hair on the back of our necks stands up. Our muscles tighten and we clench our fists.


While there’ve been plenty of these kinds of situations in my life, the most upsetting actually didn’t happen to me personally. There were some people that wanted our support for something. They wanted us to stand up in support of it and to back up that support with our wallets. While we were not convinced about the cause and quietly kept our opinions to ourselves, the absence of our positive and enthusiastic support was noticed.


They had tried to convince me on several occasions, applying everything from friendly persuasion to backing me into a physical corner. By God’s grace I saw it for what it was and held my ground. I kept my composure. I held my temper. I thanked them for their concern, and I walked through them.


But then they tried to intimidate my wife. Their leader was talking to Mary Ann, giving her their best pitch. She quietly and respectfully tried to explain that we were not in favor of this and that’s why we were keeping quiet. Not getting what they wanted, the leader moved in for the kill. They put their hand on Mary Ann’s shoulder and whispered, “Get onboard.”


Words are a poor tool to explain how that made me feel. Even to this day, I still see red when I think about their attempts to back Mary Ann into a corner. To force her to do and say things that she didn’t agree with or approve of.


This is the same kind of corner that Titus had been put in. At this time, Christianity was seen mostly from a Jewish perspective. Jesus was Jewish and he came as the Jewish messiah. The Jewish king, redeemer, and savior.


All the first Christians were Jewish too. And a lot of them believed to truly become a follower of Jesus that you also had to become Jewish. So, for non-Jewish Gentiles, they had to give up all their customs and daily living routines and follow all the Jewish customs and rules. In case you didn’t figure this out, becoming Jewish was a big thing. It meant abandoning everything and everyone they’d ever known. It changed the way they dressed. What they ate. How they lived. And for the men, it meant circumcision.


Titus wasn’t just casually asked about getting circumcised and then they let it go. No. They came at him again and again. He was under a lot of strong pressure to convert to Judaism. He became a target for all the Jewish believers in Jesus. To be a complete Jesus follower, he had to become a Jew first.


It’s important to remember that Titus, a Greek follower of Jesus, had been traveling with the Apostle Paul for some time. Paul called him “my brother[1]” and was delighted to see him[2]. Titus was the kind of guy that when he arrived, he comforted Paul[3]. He was Paul’s partner and co-worker[4]


And who did all this come from? Not just some average Joe-Schmoe average Christian. No, this came personally and directly from the great Apostle Paul. He was well schooled in all the Jewish teachings and traditions. And yet, he didn’t force or even ask Titus to get circumcised.


Even though there was lots of pressure from lots of people, Titus held his ground. They tried to force him to do something that he didn’t want to do. Something that wasn’t necessary. They urged him with all their powers. With lots of words. They tried to paint him into a corner where the only way to be a follow of Jesus was to be circumcised. But Titus knew better.


While we’re not told where Titus’ strength came from, it’s not hard to imagine that it rubbed off of the Apostle Paul. He heard and read Paul’s preaching and letters. He was so trusted by Paul and other early Christians that he carried 2 Corinthians with him when he was sent to receive money collected for the suffering Jews in Jerusalem.


It didn’t matter if Titus was alone or with like-minded people, he was willing to stand. To stand alone if necessary. To stand for the truth of the Gospel. To stand in freedom with Jesus as a Gentile. Why? Because there’s neither Jew of Greek in Christ[5].


What a great way to live. Strong enough in the faith to be able to stand. To refuse to be forced to be someone that’s not walking with Jesus.


Noodling Questions


  • Describe the last time someone tried to force you to do something.

  • How did you react and respond to being forced into a corner?

  • What does freedom in Jesus look like to you?

[1] 2 Corinthians 2:13 [2] 2 Corinthians 7:13 [3] 2 Corinthians 7:6 [4] 2 Corinthians 8:23 [5] Colossians 3:11

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