I have never wanted a tattoo. When I was growing up only people “on the fringe” had them, but its very different now. A Pew Study done in 2012 found that Americans spent $1.65 billion the previous year on ink. 40 % of U.S. adults ages 26-40 have a at least one tattoo. Currently, on average, a small tattoo costs $45 and a large one costs $150 per hour. So cost is one reason I don’t want one. The other is that it looks like it hurts. I don’t want unnecessary pain. I don’t like to pierce my skin, unless there’s a real need to do that. I did once allow some pre-med students to practice giving IV’s on me, but we were stuck at the time (or I was) with not much else to do. (Not that you were asking, but I'm fine with you having a tattoo, unless you are one of my children and want me to pay for it.)
There’s a different kind of tattoo that has my interest this week. Paul closes the letter to Galatians in an interesting way saying, “Let no one cause me trouble for I bear on my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” The root of the Greek word translated “marks” means to prick, to stick, or to sting. Slaves had the names or stamp of their owners on their bodies. It was sometimes done for soldiers also. Like them, Paul didn’t choose his tattoo, rather they were scars received at the hands of those who persecuted him for his allegiance to Jesus. Near Galatia he was once stoned and left for dead. It’s possible that some of those who received his letter had vivid memories of that gruesome experience.
Paul’s undisputed willingness to suffer for the sake of Christ put an explanation point on his letter.
The willingness to suffer for your relationship with Jesus demonstrates that Jesus is worth suffering for. It creates credibility and shows a determination you have decided that no matter what, I will die on this hill if necessary. That's the kind of tattoo every disciple of Jesus needs, but the only way to pay for it is time; time choosing to suffer for the sake of Christ and bearing it with grace.
I look forward to sharing these last few verses with you Sunday. If God grants that I may communicate to you a fraction of what he has done in me through my study this week, it’s going to be an awesome time for us as a church body. I promise you this, we will not boast in greatness of our church or of our ministries, but we will boast in the cross of Christ.
Everyone you care about needs to hear this message. You can get a sneak peak at the outline here. The video should be available on the Bethany Place website on Monday.