Focal Passage: Galatians 2:1-14
During my early teens my sisters loved to make fun of the way I answered the phone. For some reason my voice dropped about an octave when I put the receiver to my face. I had made the subconscious effort to be something I wasn’t – older than 13! I wish all my past inconsistencies had been so harmless. The repeated mantra, “The church is full of hypocrites,” stems from obvious wavering in the lives of believers. Sometimes Sunday’s praise clashes with Monday’s profanity! Peter’s failure reminds us that contradiction even happens among the saints. Is holiness or sin outside your true character?
As he prayed on the Simon’s rooftop (Acts 10), Peter saw a heavenly vision of a large sheet coming down from the sky filled with numerous unclean animals. Like any good Jew, Peter protested the divine command to kill and eat, replying, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” God quickly corrected him, declaring, “What God has cleansed no longer consider unholy.” He could not take the message of grace to the Gentile Cornelius with the burden of the law around his neck!
Peter had been eating with Gentiles until certain men from the church in Jerusalem came to visit. As a result, Peter withdrew from them for fear of the Judaizers (people who believed that salvation required faith in Christ plus adherence to the law). Sadly, the rest of the Jews, including Barnabas, followed Peter’s flawed example. Paul condemned Peter’s hypocrisy and opposed him publicly. When we fail to stand our theological ground, other believers may quickly slide with us. Often Christians will stand to the death for issues that don’t make any difference in God’s Kingdom, and flounder on significant theological issues to keep from hurting someone’s feelings. May God give us graciousness in matters of opinion and backbones of steel regarding “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” should be our lifestyle!