By Brooke Holt
“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’ We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:11-16)
If you have ever thought the Bible to be boring, I encourage you to turn to Acts 10 and read the story of Peter’s vision and subsequent trip to Caesarea to share the Gospel with Cornelius and his family and friends. Much to Peter’s surprise, all the Jewish laws and regulations he held to were dismissed as the Lord said to Peter, “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:15). To add to Peter’s surprise, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon all who gathered in Cornelius’ home and listened to Peter’s teaching. The Holy Spirit even came upon the Gentiles —what a revelation to Peter and those with him!
Peter knew quite well of God’s work among the Gentiles. Nevertheless, long-term habits and practices can be hard to break especially when one is in the company of those who shared those habits and practices. When the Jewish Christians criticized Peter for eating with Gentiles, Peter did not share the vision from God or how he had experienced God’s power and presence among the Gentiles. Instead, Peter compromised his faith and fell back into the old Jewish ways.
Praise be to God for the apostle Paul who would not be led astray. Paul confronted Peter in his hypocrisy and declared again how the Gospel of Jesus Christ did not lead to subjection to the Law or Jewish superiority. The Gospel was the means of justification for those who believed. And all who believed were then full members of the body of Christ regardless of their backgrounds.
The driving passion of Paul’s life was to make Jesus known and to see people set free by his redemptive work. Paul would challenge even the strongest authorities when the Gospel was at stake! What about you? Are you faithful to what the Lord has revealed to you through his Word? Will you stand up against those who depart from the teachings of Scripture and seek to lead others astray?
Today, the church and the world are desperate for people to speak the truth in love. We are not called to condone ungodly practices but call people back to the truths of the Scripture and the freedom we find in following Jesus Christ our Lord.
How is God calling you to speak the truth in love today? Please share your thoughts and reflections in the comments.
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