Summary: We can keep on growing all the way to the end of our days if we hear, hear, and hlep our godly critics.
Some of the meanest people I knew growing up were church people. I noticed that some people just don’t change. I knew people who came to services every Sunday. They wouldn’t miss their small group meeting on Sunday morning. They came back for evening services on Sunday night. They showed up for prayer meetings and workdays around the church. They tithed. They taught classes. They held positions of responsibility. Some would say that they were pillars of the church. But they were mean as snakes.
Most people knew it – especially their families. And as I think back on it, one thing that really strikes me is this: No one really expected them to change. It was known fact. They were mean and proud of it. “Do you know Jesus?” “O, yes!” “But are you changing?” “O, no!”
Most churches have a handful of people like that. I’m betting that you know people who come to church over and over and over, but their lives don’t change. They stay the same.
Would you answer some questions today? Are you changing?
Would the people who know me best say…
… that I am actually more loving than I was 3-5 years ago?
… that I really have more joy than I did 3-5 years ago?
… that I am genuinely more peaceful than I was 3-5 years ago?
… that I truly show more patience than I did 3-5 years ago?
… that I am more kind than I was 3-5 years ago?
God wants you to grow up. Your heavenly father’s goal is for you to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ. Sadly, millions of Christians grow old but never grow up. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Becoming a lifelong learner (who finishes well!)
Text: Galatians 2:11-14
We’re wrapping up our series on the life of one of the most colorful Bible characters, Peter. We’ve called the series “Life under construction.” We’ve seen how Jesus interacted with Peter to build him, to change him, to make him usable.
Next week, we’re beginning a new series called “Christmas Unwrapped.” On the way out, you’ll be given a flyer you can use to invite a friend.
It’s possible to get all sorts of gifts at Christmas and still leave the best gift unopened. So we are encouraging people to come and discover and receive God’s gift to you this Christmas season. The most important gifts you’ll get this year are the gifts God has already given.
Dec 7 – Freedom from fear
Dec 14 – Good News
Dec 21 – Great joy
Dec 24 – A Savior, Christ the Lord
Today… Becoming a lifelong learner
Remember that we’ve been learning from a man whose name was changed by Jesus from Simon to Peter (rock) because Jesus saw leadership potential in him. Peter was part of the inner circle of disciples. He had seen the transfigured Lord. He’d been told to feed the sheep. He’d preached great sermons. He was one of the key leaders of the early church in Jerusalem and in Antioch.
Yet, in this book we call Galatians, Peter is confronted by another leader. The leader? Paul. Here, Paul uses the Greek name for Peter, Cephas. Galatians 2:11…
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
Don’t forget that Peter was the first of the followers of Christ to share the good news about Jesus to those who were not Jews. Last week, we learned that Peter had a special revelation from God in a dream. God made it clear to Peter that God had chosen to pour out His grace not only on the Jewish people, but also on the Romans and Greeks. And Peter, in Acts 15, stood before a church leadership council and defended the inclusion of non-Jews.
Now, what has Peter done to cause another church leader to confront him so boldly and so publicly? Galatians 2:12…
12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof…
What’s happening here? When he first came to Antioch, Peter used to eat non-kosher food with the non-Jews. He knew that those non-Jews who were followers of Jesus were part of the family. He said, “Let’s hang out together!” But some Jewish people showed up from Jerusalem in Antioch who weren’t so comfortable hanging out with non-Jews, the Gentiles – even if those non-Jews were claiming to follow Jesus. These Jerusalem Jews were prejudiced. They wanted to add their dietary rules and ceremonial regulations to the good news about Jesus.
So, Peter stopped hanging out with the Gentiles and only hung out with the Jews. This was a big deal. The message it sent was that there are two classes of Christians. The first class Christians are the Jews. The second class Christians are the Gentiles. This is why Paul opposed Peter to his face.