They had eaten dinner together at the table and suddenly were now being shunned. What had they done to deserve this? Was there some sin committed? For the most part, shunning is considered evil in Scripture and often times mistakenly used as church discipline where it is misinterpreted from Matthew 18 for conflict resolution.
Known as a pillar of the church, Peter must have been stunned by Paul’s public confrontation. Stunned as he was, Peter was at fault. Peter had been present and had spoken in defense of the Gentiles at the Jerusalem Council meeting (Acts 15) that it should not be made difficult for Gentile believers to be accepted as part of the family. Yet when faced with the fear of criticism, Peter folded. Was he afraid of losing his status/title, or did Peter elevate James’ friends so much that he didn’t want them to know he disagreed with their stand on circumcision? Whatever the cause, Peter was given a new title that day by Paul and it was not a promotion. His new title is hypocrite.
There was so much at stake for Paul. He was called to preach to the Gentiles just as much as Peter had been called to preach to the Jews. Imagine another believer (in this case a leader) putting a stumbling block in your way that would make it difficult for those you were called to reach to be accepted. Paul’s reason for confrontation was well-founded. Peter, the pillar, had strayed and his straying was detrimental to the Kingdom.
Whoa! How quickly Peter, in fear of man, had changed his doctrine from “saved by grace” to “saved by being obedient to the law.” Shouldn’t he have been more fearful of God? Paul said his hypocritical behavior was a sin (Gal. 2:18). What a reminder that we must stand for the gospel truth when faced with any kind of criticism.
- Fear of criticism is a stumbling block to faith: to our faith and the faith of others.
- Leaders who stray influence followers to stray: Barnabas and other believers began to follow Peter’s hypocrisy and shunning of Gentiles. I will always go back to Hosea 4:9, “And what the priests do, the people also do.” We must beware of how we are leading others, including ourselves.
- God’s grace has no partiality.
– not for the law – Gal. 3:23
– not for a people group – Gal. 3:26-29
Have you shunned others in some way? When we’ve been wounded, we can easily forget that we can be the wounder as well. Would you allow Jesus’ red pen to be your best friend? His red pen symbolizes the blood he shed for our sins, it allows us to be corrected and transformed more into his likeness.
Have you been shunned by others because of their fear of criticism, fear of losing a title/platform, income, jealousy, shame, or insecurity, etc.? Hold your head up once again my friends. God has no favorites. Holding others accountable and saying, “NO MORE” is okay for the sake of the Truth! If they don’t listen, move on for Jesus and do what you’re called to do – make disciples by loving people to a new life in Christ and forgive as you have been forgiven.
For more on this, you can listen to the full message in our Steeple Chasing Series: The Churches of Galatia at www.sincitychurch.com.