The Scars That Come


“From now on, don’t let anyone trouble me with these things. For I bear on my body the scars that show I belong to Jesus.”  —  Galatians 6:17

The Chancellor of the University of Glasgow introduced one day to the young men of that university, God’s missionary, David Livingstone. When Livingstone stood up and walked to the front of the platform to speak to the group of university men, the students looked at him earnestly.

They saw his hair burned crisp under the torrid tropical sun. They saw his body wasted and emaciated from jungle fever. They saw his right arm hanging limp at his side, destroyed by the attack of a ferocious African lion. When the students looked at Livingstone, they stood up with one accord in awe and in silence before God’s missionary. The scars spoke for themselves.

Paul was no stranger to such scars. He had been beaten, put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked in exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, gone without food, shipwrecked, stoned and left for dead. He considered all this normal and a privilege afforded to him in walking with Christ.

Paul wrote the words of Galatians 6:17 in the context of  what he considered the most gruesome attack on the Christian faith…false teachings and false teachers. These teachers desired to add the work of circumcision to the gift of salvation and the grace of God. Paul would stand for none of this. It was only the cross that mattered; it was only the cross that counted!

Paul’s stand for the gospel and for man’s desperate need of God’s grace and forgiveness had brought the scars in his life. The reality of a coming judgment and a personal accounting drove Paul on in his efforts to bring the Good News to everyone possible.

Paul knew and shared such a call to difficulty with Timothy. He wrote, “Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

What of the scars that come in our lives? In the pampered Christian culture we find ourselves, do we bear in our bodies the scars that show we belong to Jesus? Many today would aspire to greatness in their Christian walk, but is there anyone who would aspire to the scars?

We must welcome the scars that come. They are our privilege…our joy!

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