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Tag Archives: Gentiles

Peter & John — Galatians 2:11-13

Galatians 2:11-13
11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. 13 As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Dear God, it’s interesting to see Peter give into peer pressure and Paul chastise him for it. It must have been tricky for Peter to lead in this environment. I wonder if there was a part of him that just had a hard time being certain that it was okay to eat what Gentiles ate. Did he believe, but Paul had to help his unbelief?

It makes me think about some of the issues that Christians currently differ about. Abortion is one issue where there are a lot of people who love you, but think it’s okay, while others who love you believe it is murder and it is the political issue that makes up 90% of their decision for whom to vote during an election. Homosexuality is another one. Is it okay or isn’t it?

I have a friend who is an associate pastor at a large church in a small town in another state. I asked him over lunch while he was in town recently how his church (it could be considered an evangelical Bible church) deals with this issue. He said that while they don’t condone it, they don’t call it out. He said that they are free to worship there, but cannot have any leadership roles. He also said that they would not be able to join as members. In retrospect, this feels to me a little like Peter in this story. Are you going to draw the line or aren’t you? At the same time, I can appreciate their dilemma because I am not 100% sure about this issue myself. I have homosexual people in my life whom I love and adore. I feel no compulsion to make them change to be in relationship with me. At the same time, I am not completely comfortable with their lifestyles, but I cannot tell if that is your conviction or the teaching I learned growing up.

Father, I don’t want to be a hypocrite, which is what Paul accuse Peter of in this passage. I don’t want to accept someone to their face and reject them to others. I suppose that is the most important thing I can do in situations such as what I described above. At the end of the day, I love these people and I am not in a position to judge or convict them. That is the Holy Spirit’s job. My job is to encourage them in their relationships with you and then count on the Holy Spirit to work with them in the various aspects of their lives the same as how the Holy Spirit works on me. I confess that I have grieved you as much sexually at different times in my life as much as any homosexual might have, and it has nothing to do with preferring the same or opposite sex. It goes back to the sexual immorality that Peter mentioned to the church back in Acts 15:28-29. It takes all forms, and it is important that I not use judgment of others to make me feel better about my own failings in this area.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2018 in Galatians, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Acts 15:1-35

Acts 15:1-33,35 NIV
[1] Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” [2] This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. [3] The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad. [4] When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. [5] Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” [6] The apostles and elders met to consider this question. [7] After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. [8] God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. [9] He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. [10] Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? [11] No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” [12] The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. [13] When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. [14] Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. [15] The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: [16] “ ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, [17] that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’— [18] things known from long ago. [19] “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. [20] Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. [21] For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” [22] Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, men who were leaders among the believers. [23] With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. [24] We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. [25] So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— [26] men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. [27] Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. [28] It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: [29] You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. [30] So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch, where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter. [31] The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message. [32] Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. [33] After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. [35] But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, where they and many others taught and preached the word of the Lord.

Dear God, I’m kind of surprised that this is where we see the last of Peter and John in Acts. Peter gets to be the authority that settles this dispute about circumcision and then the book becomes about Paul’s travels.

Before starting to attend Catholic Church with my wife nearly eight years ago, I never realized that They consider Peter to be the first Pope. That makes sense, I suppose. I would imagine that his life and the evolution of his beliefs and what you taught him ended up surprising him. I’m sure he didn’t expect to be the head of a church and entire movement, and I’m certain he didn’t expect that one day he would be advocating for the acceptance of Gentiles into The Way.

I guess we all evolve over time as the Holy Spirit works on us. I’ve certainly evolved. I wonder, though, how much my evolution has been tainted by the teaching of men (and I’m not just referring to males), whether they be influencers from the church or from the world. Do I have the wisdom of Peter, Paul, Judas, and Silas? Am I hearing the Holy Spirit when I make decisions based on whom I should accept and whom I should reproach?

Father, my confession is that, until I get a good, clear word from you otherwise, I will default to love and encouraging people to pursue and embrace you. We are not even close to understanding your ways. I admit that. You are too great for me to comprehend. But you have proven your love to me so I will start there and then see if I can hear your voice and let your Holy Spirit guide me from there.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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Peter & John — Acts 11:1-18

Acts 11:1-18 NIV
[1] The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. [2] So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him [3] and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” [4] Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story: [5] “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. [6] I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles and birds. [7] Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’ [8] “I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ [9] “The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ [10] This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again. [11] “Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. [12] The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. [13] He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, ‘Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. [14] He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.’ [15] “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. [16] Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ [17] So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” [18] When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.”

Dear God, I am intrigued by the racism in the early church in this story. They just couldn’t imagine that they weren’t superior in your eyes—simply because of their fortune to have been born Jewish. I suppose that outside of Jesus, this might be the first time that racial barriers are broken down and we are left to look at each other as equals under your eyes.

Why do we do that? What is it about us that feels the need to elevate ourselves at the expense of others? I suppose it is insecurity and the true knowledge of how flawed we each are. As I sit here and think about it, our nation is in the throws of a struggle over how to deal with people who live in Latin America and want to immigrate here. The irony is, most people want to focus on protecting the border and keeping them out. In my mind, that’s like treating cancer with morphine. You’ll feel Breyer for a while, but the cancer will grow. In this case, Latin American immigrants have been wanting to come here for jobs since before I was born. Isn’t it time we went to the source of the problem and figured out how to root out corruption and develop the nations to our south to make them stronger? Isn’t a strong Latin America in our national interest? As Christians, isn’t a strong Latin America in the interest of our fellow humans?

Father, I know I still have vestiges of racism with me. Help me to see it, repent, and then use the knowledge to do something about it. Use me in your plan however you wish.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2018 in Acts, Peter and John

 

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