Galatians 2 – Post 2 of 3 (Galatians 2:11-14)
This reads a little like a middle school lunch room scene when the popular crowd enters the cafeteria. That group you were just laughing and making plans with, you are now slowly sliding away from, hoping to not get noticed; hoping to not be seen with “those people.”
Peter – who first received the revelation from God that He showed no partiality between Gentiles and Jews (Acts 10)– is happily eating with the Gentiles in Antioch…UNTIL…some men from the Jewish elite come to town. He slowly draws back, separating himself from the Gentiles, hoping to not get noticed; hoping to not be seen with “those people.”
Peter knows full well that nothing in the Jewish law is required for salvation. He lives in the freedom of the work of Christ alone, yet he quickly reverts to old ways when these men come to town.
The crazy thing is that Peter is one of the most prominent Christian leaders at the time. And even he succumbs to fear.
It is a doozy of an emotion that causes us to do all sorts of things we don’t want to do and know we shouldn’t do.
Fears cripple us and leads us down ungodly paths…fear of what these people will think, fear of being talked about, fear of missing out, fear of compromising our prestigious position, fear of not fitting in, fear of failing...
So, what do we do?
The opposite of fear isn’t bravery. It is faith.
We have to be secure in our beliefs. We have to be assured in the truth. We have to have confidence that God has our back; He is for us. We have to trust that God works all things for good. We have to believe that it is better to please God than man…even ourselves.
Faith is the only thing that can help us overcome fear. Peter intellectually had faith – he believed these Gentiles were saved by the work of Jesus and free of the demands of the law – but he let his guard down and let fear take over.
I’m sure Paul was nervous confronting Peter, but he wasn’t afraid. He had faith. He knew truth was on his side. This was one of those big issues worth fighting for. It was about gospel truth and salvation. This public demonstration by Peter required a public confrontation by Paul.
Why not just let it go? Because disobedience is a slippery slope. It starts off small; seemingly no big deal, and then it grows, like yeast. Before you know it, it has morphed into something enormous. It needs to be nipped in the bud immediately. Look how quickly other believers – loyal, faithful co-leader Barnabas, and then the rest of the Jewish Christians – followed the direction of Peter.
Fear leading to destructive behaviors can happen to anyone, regardless of beliefs, standing, or position.
We must work out our faith (Philippians 2:12). We all must remain in God, always seeking His guidance, direction, and truth.
Faith over fear.
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