GALATIANS 2 v. 11 – 14
‘But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles, but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.
And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, ‘If you being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?’
When Paul challenges Peter over the way he is distancing himself from the Gentile Christians, and favouring time with the Jewish Christians, Paul claims it is it ‘out of fear of the Judaisers / the ‘party of the circumcision (who insist that Gentile Christians must still fullfill all the Mosaic law, including circumcision).
Hypocrisy literally means ‘wearing a mask’, pretending to be someone / something you’re not, perhaps to impress others, or out of fear of being judged, criticised or mocked.
The truth Paul is keen to protect is that, in Christ, there is no separation between Jew and Gentile – all are one – equally loved by God, and equally put right with Him in Jesus – without any requirement on our part, other than faith. Peter’s actions are betraying that truth, and like a poison it looks like it’s spreading in the church.
Today, too, we must do battle for the unity of the church – there are no first and second class Christians, no ‘super-Christians’, all are radically ONE in Him. But we must also do battle within ourselves to show no favouritism, and to build bridges of unity rather than build walls of separation, to avoid ourselves being charged with hypocrisy, or to deny others / all the chance to experience God’s amazing grace.
help me guard my heart
and my actions,
so that I am not swayed by the crowd,
or seek the approval of others
or hide my true self for fear of a reaction from others,
over and above
the truth of the gospel –
that You love us equally,
and gave Yourself for us equally,
that we might experience a radical unity –
one with You
and one with all who love You.
Give me clean hands and pure heart
today and always.
Choose to spend some time today / this week, with those you wouldn’t ‘naturally’ gravitate towards, but listen to the nudging of God’s Spirit, calling you to be alongside others, for the sake of the gospel – that all are equal, and are one in Him.