Focal passage: Galatians 2:11-21
Working in hospitality, part of my job is giving people directions. My responsibility is simple enough. I just have to guide the person from point A to point B. No one ever asks me to make their journey as difficult as possible, adding as many unnecessary steps as I can. In fact, I’m not doing my job very well if I do. Very rarely does anyone need the scenic route to dinner.
Continuing his letter to the Galatians, Paul addresses a situation in which extra requirements were being added to salvation and Christian fellowship. Paul describes an encounter he had with another apostle, Peter. Peter had himself become influenced by false teachers, neglecting to eat with Gentiles when a certain group of Jews were around. He feared those who said salvation was obtained by obeying Jewish laws such as circumcision – laws that the Gentiles did not keep.
But the Jewish laws did not have the power to save the Jews, and Peter knew this. Paul wastes no time rebuking Peter, letting him know in front of everyone the hypocrisy in his actions. Not only was he being a hypocrite, he was causing others under his influence to do the same.
Paul reminds Peter that all are saved by faith.
The Gentiles had received the same gift of grace as the Jews even though they did not follow the same cultural practices.
We must be careful not to add extra steps to the gospel. Any way to salvation other that faith in Jesus is a false gospel. When offering salvation to us, God does not differentiate between culture, societal status, or even behavior. There is no scenic route to salvation.
As believers, we are called to share our faith with others, but we must avoid adding to the work that Jesus has already done.
Only by faith can anyone say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:19-20).