Today’s Bible Reading from the Five Day Bible Reading Plan: Genesis 45-46, Psalm 108, Galatians 2
In his commentary on Galatians, Philip Ryken noted, “When the fear of people overcomes the fear of God, we are likely to deny the gospel. Unless we are willing to stand up for God at work on Monday, we are just pretending at church on Sunday.” Does that describe us? Even strong Christians will struggle with the fear of man—so recognize it and fight against it (Galatians 2:11-14).
The pillars of the church in Jerusalem received Paul and his gospel ministry to the Gentiles, even giving “the right hand of fellowship to Barnabus and me” (2:9). All that was needed by Paul was not to give them the Law of Moses or to circumcise, but to simply “remember the poor.”
Yet, in Antioch, where only 10% of the population was Jewish, leaving the Christian church with a multicultural flavor—of which Peter fully embraced (see Acts 10-11) when the “men … from James” came, Peter “separated himself, fearing the circumcision party” (2:12). His influence caused others to do the same—even the “son of encouragement,” Barnabas, Paul’s partner!
Beware of how you influence and who you influence. Leaders (whether paid or influential) can influence by fleshy attributes: looks, personality, intellect, age, etc. Yet, people are people, and all people are fallen. We need the concrete truth of the gospel to anchor us and provide our footing.
The apostle Paul let the fear of God and the gospel of God drive his actions—even as the new guy standing up to Peter. Paul reminded Peter that this was not merely an ethnic or religious ritual issue. “Their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel” (2:14). Peter was being inconsistent and a coward. It was OK for him to eat with Gentiles, but not OK for Gentiles to eat with Jews.
Pretenders on Sunday? We must let the gospel drive all of our actions! Do we?