Peter Needed Paul
I think God had a lot to say through Pastor David Kitani on Sunday. There was so much to consider regarding race, racial prejudice, and racism for us as a church. If you weren’t there, I encourage you to watch or listen to a replay of the worship service and the message. Here’s the link. As I reflect on the message, I was both enlightened and convicted. I thought about how I see race and racism, and how I am guilty of some of these things he talked about and have a lot to learn regarding these issues. For us as a church, I think there were a lot of application points to put into practice.
However, one of the things that stood out to me was NOT specifically race or racism-related, it was how the Apostle Paul confronted Peter in order to correct his behavior and get him back on track with the gospel. We see this in Galatians 2, verse 11, where Paul says, “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face” and then in verse 14 he says, “When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all…”
God had already taught Peter in Acts 10-11 that, in Christ, Gentile believers were clean and did not need to follow Jewish laws and customs. Yet, here in Galatians, Peter has stopped eating and having table fellowship with the Gentiles because, according to some of the Jews, they were still unclean due to diet and other cultural differences. So Peter flip-flopped and was not following his convictions, maybe because of national pride, racial prejudice, or because of peer-pressure. Even Peter, one of our favorite disciples, had compromised. Fortunately, he had Paul (or Paul had him).
The Apostle Paul confronted Peter because Peter was not acting according to his convictions, what he knew to be right. Peter was compromising the truth and, maybe most importantly to Paul, he was not acting in line with the Gospel of Grace and so was misrepresenting Christ to others. We all need a Paul in our lives. Someone who will care enough to hold us accountable to our convictions and keep us in line with the truth of the gospel. Galatians 6 commands us to restore one another if we see the other caught in sin. That’s what Paul did for Peter.
Unfortunately, it is all too easy these days to flip-flop on what’s important and compromise our convictions. We’re influenced by the world where faith is weak and the truth is relative. On our own, we have no chance. We are meant to live out our faith together in mutual support and accountability. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Like Peter, we need a Paul. Who is your Paul?