Jeremiah 4-6

This isn’t the first time I’ve discussed the command to circumcise the heart. It came up in Deuteronomy. My understanding has had time to develop.

My understanding hasn’t changed, exactly. I still believe it requires a removal of reservations, a cutting away of the defenses that come between us and surrender to God.

However, I now think that might be more of a by-product than the nature of the sacrifice itself.

Circumcision is an outward act, like so much of the covenant requirements. All the sacrifices are physical acts, things people did. You don’t have to believe a thing to do it. People go through the motions every day. In religion, in relationships, in the workplace. People follow the steps for processes they aren’t invested in and don’t care about. They observe the outward form without any internal interest.

Later in today’s reading God says that the sacrifices are worthless. The incense itself means nothing to him. Also not the first time he’s made that point.

Circumcising the heart isn’t something you can do outwardly. It isn’t something you can appear to do. God is telling them, again, that all the ritual in the world means nothing unless they have the faith, unless they have their hearts in the right place, unless they are actually sincerely worshipping God.

Your relationship with God, in your heart, is so much more important than whether you get all the forms right, check all the boxes. If your heart is right, you’ll be out there doing your best, growing, learning to do it better, but you’ll get it perfect anyway. So where is your heart? Is your heart circumcised? Is your heart in the covenant?

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