11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
In this passage Paul is rebuking Peter for some
of his actions and behaviours in the way that he was dealing with Gentiles, the
people who were not Jews. Verse 13 tells us that Peter’s actions were not
honest, and that even Barnabas was led astray. Both Peter and Barnabas are high
profile New Testament people – they each played a huge role in building the
early church and spreading the good news of the gospel at the time. Yet, as we
read in this passage, neither of them got it right all the time or were above
reproach. They, like us, were still sinful, fragile humans who were able to be
swayed from the truth that they once preached when it came to the way Jews and
Gentiles should live.
This passage reminds me that all have fallen short of the glory of God. How important it is to make sure our hearts are right before God at all times, regardless of who we are. I am also reminded that being a leader is a hard job! We need to pray for those who hold the mantle and responsibility of leadership in the church, that they would be strong in the Lord as they make decisions and listen to His voice.
God thank you that you sent your Son to die for us, because all of us – regardless of who we are – have fallen short of your glory. Help us to keep our hearts soft and open towards you, that we would not stray from your will. Lord we ask that you would also help us to remember to pray for those in positions of leadership, to uphold and support them as they seek you. Amen.
Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko