Home > Christianity, Church, Faith > When Good Guys Act Stupid

When Good Guys Act Stupid

This is a series of posts based on the messages I deliver in a campground ministry I am involved in.  I am preaching through Galatians and sometimes I think I benefit much more than the people who listen to me on a given Sunday.

So far, Paul has defended his apostleship, the gospel and the mission the Lord has given him.  He has described a short trip he took to Jerusalem and then, fourteen years later, another trip he has taken to Jerusalem.  He and the other apostles are on the same page.  They are preaching the same gospel.  He is fighting charges from false teachers called Judaizers who say that his gospel is incomplete and that the Galatians Christians must all follow the Law on top of accepting Christ as Savior.

Paul picks up in Galatians 2:11 with Peter coming to Antioch to visit.  This didn’t go so well because Paul opposed him to his face.  Things didn’t start out bad, it seems, but they went downhill fairly quickly.  It seems that at first Peter enjoyed the freedom he had in the gospel.  He used to eat with the Gentiles.  Peter had no problem with it at all.  That was before the coming of certain men from James.  Once this happened everything changed.  Peter began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.

What kind of effect did this have on the Christians meeting together in Antioch?  The rest of the Jews joined him in this hypocrisy.  Peter was Peter, after all.  He was one of the Twelve.  He was looked up to and his words and actions carried a lot of weight.  Even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.  That’s right.  Barnabas.  Son of encouragement.  Paul’s right hand man.  He was affected by what Peter and the Jews were doing.  Even he was pulling away from the Gentiles.  All of this because Peter feared living out the Gospel because a bad report might be taken back to James by these men from Jerusalem.

Paul had to act fact.  After all, Peter, James and John had given him the right hand of fellowship several years earlier.  They did not feel compelled to require circumcision for Gentiles that came to know Christ.  They were on the same page.  Singing out of the same hymnbook.  Now, suddenly, things are changing.  Why?  Because of fear.  Paul didn’t have the luxury of going to Peter in private.  Peter’s mistake (sin?) was public and affecting people publicly.  It was going to affect the way an entire local church viewed the gospel.

Paul opposed Cephas to his face because he stood condemned.  That sure sounds like Peter had publicly sinned.  Peter and the rest were not being straightforward about the truth of the gospel.  Paul spoke to Peter in front of everyone.  He said, “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?”

There you have the hypocrisy of Peter that led to the hypocrisy of others.  He was living one way and requiring others to live another.  He would not have preached this, but his actions were louder than words.

What can we take away from this?

1.  Fear can make good guys act stupid.  Peter was not for this type of behavior.  He just didn’t want a bad report to go back to the pastor of Jerusalem.  Peter had denied the Lord on the night of his trial and here he was denying the truth of the work of Christ.

2.  We must stand for what we believe.  Paul opposed THE apostle of the day.  How intimidating could that have been?  No wonder the others were following his lead.  Not Paul.  He had been transformed by the gospel and he wasn’t going to follow someone just because of who they were.  If Paul could stand up to a powerful figure within the Church, what could we and should we do if someone is doing wrong within our local bodies of believers.

3.  The truth of the gospel cannot be compromised.  It would have been easier for Paul to have worked this thing out behind the scenes.  After all, he had gone to the apostles in private in Jerusalem.  However, this was public and getting out of hand quickly.  The reputation of the gospel was at stake.  They were not living the truth.  There was not room for compromise here.

  1. rickd3352013
    June 2, 2013 at 2:16 am

    As regards point #2 – when the person in question is the pastor, and you stand up against them, you get beat down by them and *some* staff. It wasn’t what should have happened, but what did happen. They ended up resigning, and the staffers were fired, but spiritual abuse under clerical authority happens a lot. Calling the powerful out when they are in the wrong is the right thing to do – but it sucks when you have to leave a congregation – even though ultimately you are proven right.

    • rickd3352013
      June 2, 2013 at 2:18 am

      Oh yeah, and the details had to be kept secret – they might affect the guy’s future pastoral gig. We – those who called the guy out – don’t factor into those who were hurt.

    • June 2, 2013 at 6:15 am

      I know someone who did this, the pastor left and they are still there, but no one likes them. It’s a tough thing to do.

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