“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.” (Gal.2:12)
Here is the sequence in Antioch, a church with two different kinds of people but supposedly one in Christ. 1. Peter often had a mean with Gentile believers. 2. Some men, sent by James, came to Antioch. 3. Peter stopped eating with the Gentile believers. 4. Peter was afraid of the Jewish Jews. 5. (next verse) Peter caused other Jews to do the same thing.
Our first reaction might be one of surprise because we think of Peter as being the brave apostle. If not brave at least willing to stick his neck out. He’s the one who made the confession, the one to try water-striding and used a sword. What is Peter afraid of? Not God because he knows that God approves of his having lunch with the Gentiles and treating them as equals. He had the visions, right? He’s the one who said, “Now I see that God is not a respecter of persons.”
Think about this in light of your own life. Have you ever passed up an opportunity to speak up on behalf of God and failed to do it? Have you ever been more conscious of your social situation than you were the truth of God? Have you ever failed to tell a lost person about Jesus because it was socially inappropriate? Are you by any chance careful about who you sit with or eat with because of how someone else might view it? At your church, are you as quick to say “sit with me” to a poor person as a rich?
Poor Peter. He got caught up in being human for a time and forgot who he was and what he represented. For a while, he got caught up in the moment and forgot eternity. He was wrong and Paul was quick to point that out. We don’t know but we have to assume that Peter realized he was wrong. He made mistakes in front of Jesus and had to apologize for them. It wasn’t new to him any more than it is news to us. Peter was big on repentance as his writings and speeches testify. No doubt, being the man of God he was, he repented of this behavior and went on to champion the brotherhood of believers.
Don’t fear man, Jesus said. Man can only harm the body. If you are going to fear anything, fear God because he can destroy your spirit. What men think of us is relative only in so far as how it relates to their coming to God. If what we do and say leads men to Jesus then we are okay. But if we please men rather than God we endanger our souls.
Task for Today: Ask yourself an important question and be honest with your answer. Here is the question: Do I make my decisions during the day in order to be accepted by humans or by God? Eat your meal with the Gentiles, Christian person, and let the Circumcision Party murmur all they want. Put the kingdom of God first. Put the citizens of the kingdom first. Remember that all of the kingdom citizens are saved by the same blood as you and wear the same robe and crown.