11 When Peter came to Antioch, I told him to his face that I was against what he was doing. He was clearly wrong. 12 He used to eat with the Gentiles. But certain men came from a group sent by James. When they arrived, Peter began to draw back. He separated himself from the Gentiles. That’s because he was afraid of the circumcision group sent by James. 13 Peter’s actions were not honest, and other Jews in Antioch joined him. Even Barnabas was led astray. 14 I saw what they were doing. It was not in line with the truth of the good news. So I spoke to Peter in front of them all. “You are a Jew,” I said. “But you live like one who is not. So why do you force Gentiles to follow Jewish ways?”
In this passage Paul confronts Peter about his double-standards. He was concerned that Peter and those following him were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel (v14). Religion and the following of rules had crept back in, because Peter and those with him feared what others might think (v12). I observe that Paul confronted Peter to his face (v11) and in front of them all (v14). Paul had a serious concern for his brother in Christ and the integrity of the gospel and so publicaly raised the issue. I can only imagine it was awkward and uncomfortable, but Paul’s ultimate concern was the truth.
Am I prepared to speak up and risk discomfort and awkwardness for the gospel? Am I prepared to confront practices that don’t match the gospel? Am I prepared to be confronted and swallow my pride? Is this about me, or is this about the Good News of Jesus being clearly communicated to others?
God, please help me to live boldly like Paul. Help me to listen and receive feedback, and to speak when necessary. Teach me what things are minor and what things are worth addressing. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh