"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Calling Out Peter (ROCC SG Week 3)
In short, here's the deal:
Peter was a strong advocate for the Gentile believers. Not only did he believe, and teach, that Christ came for all, he also agreed with Paul that Gentiles were not required to fulfill Jewish customs in order to be accepted by God. In fact, it was Peter who received the vision in Acts 10 of the Lord sending down a sheet of "unclean" food and assured Peter that everything He made was clean. This was a message of acceptance for the Gentiles, despite Jewish custom. Peter then took this gospel, or 'good news' of grace, to the Gentile Cornelius, where scripture later says, "the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles." (Note: it was also Peter who says in Acts 10:34, "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.")
For whatever reason, Peter was now acting as if he could not be seen in fellowship with the Gentiles, especially when the Pharisee leaders would come around. He had not been that way before, but he was becoming somewhat hypocritical in his belief that grace saves, and his actions that indicated he could not be around Gentiles and remain pure in God's eyes. It was as if he begins to consider the Gentiles as second class citizens when the church leaders are around.
Then in walks Paul! We really get a sense of Paul's passion and his boldness when he says in verse 11, "I opposed him to his face ...." Why? Because he saw that Peter was influencing others by his behavior. He was "not acting in line with the truth of the gospel." He continued to remind Peter of the saving grace that is available to Jew and Gentile alike. That it is faith in Christ, not obedience to the law, that justifies. Paul says in verse 19, "... I died to the law so that I might live for God."
Finally, Paul concludes this reprimand of Peter with a truly insightful and powerful verse. Starting in verse 20 and going through 21, he says, "The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" In other words, if obedience to the law truly determined our eternity, then there was no purpose to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Think about that.
There is so much more that we discussed from this passage, too much for this post. So, I'll leave a few key takeaways here and look forward to seeing everyone again next week.
- Do we impose our own standards on others as it relates to their salvation? Perhaps around denominational doctrine, cultural norms, personal bias?
- Do we realign ourselves daily to the Gospel of Grace in order to better appreciate and comprehend how that impacts our our relationships with others?
- Do we exhibit hypocritical tendencies when prioritize pleasing man over pleasing God?
- Keep in mind that the Gospel of Grace is not a free pass to sin. It is a freedom from the bondage of legalism. It should also motivate us to live more Christ-like in our obedience of His word.