But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 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. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Galatians 2:11-14
How do you feel about public correction? I certainly don't enjoy it. Why did Paul do it? Couldn't he have pulled Peter (Cephas) aside and said "Hey look, you need to cut this out"? There are two issues at work here that we need to tease out.
As we discussed yesterday, Paul had critics who were undermining his ministry. Part of this included speaking behind his back. It may be difficult to see in our modern context, but this public rebuke of Peter shows us that Paul was continuing to refute the Judaizers. Second, and more importantly, the problem had become very widespread which even led to Barnabas, Paul's ministry partner, being led astray.
To put it in perspective, let's imagine if Paul had not stood up for the gospel in this moment. Had this erroneous understanding of the gospel been passed on since then, you and I could genuinely believe that we need to adhere to the entire Law for our righteousness. Paul will later say that if we did this, then Christ would be of "no value" or "no advantage" depending on your translation. So we can see that this was a pivotal moment in the early church.
Have you held on to something other than Jesus for your salvation? Functional saviors exist in many forms. A functional savior exists when we make a good thing a god thing. We chase after what is pleasurable, affirmed by others, or lucrative. Paul reminds us again and again in Galatians to seek salvation in Christ alone. Money, friends, a spouse, kids, or status may provide a temporary rush of contentment, but nothing can satisfy us like the Father's love. He has affirmed us in Christ and that should be the only affirmation that we need. Our value comes not from what is created, but the creator Himself.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)
This week's posts were written by Chris Adams.