Summary: As Paul rebuked Peter to his face, we sometimes need a challenge in Missions.
Missions: a wake up call (Galatians 2: 11-14)
During the time of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, Greg Livingstone was asked to give a "missions minute" at a large evangelical church on the East Coast. Since he had only one minute to speak, he decided to ask them only two questions. The first one was, "How many of you are praying for the 52 Americans hostages being held in Iran?" 4000 hands went straight up and he said, "Praise the Lord! Now, put your hands down and let me ask you another question. How many of you are praying for the 42 million Iranians being held hostage to Islam?" four hands went up. He said, "What are you guys? Americans first and Christians second? I thought this was a Bible-believing church!" (Mission Frontiers, May - June 1994)
This rebuke by Linvingstone served as a wake up call to the church and helped Mission minded Christians see the need to pray for Muslims. This mission minute was used in a dramatic way to lead to what has been called by mission experts as "the ’decade of Muslims’ in praying Christians hearts." (The Commission April 2000 p. 12)
There are times when God uses a rebuke to make significant impact in keeping his people focused on His purposes. One of the clear examples of this in Scripture is when Paul rebuked Peter to his face. Not only Peter, but the other important church leaders like Barnabus and James had lost sight of God’s purpose for all Nations.
Read: Galatians 2: 11-14
11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.
12 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 Barnabus was led astray.
14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter 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?
I) The mistakes of Peter
Jesus has told us that he hates the lukewarm Christian. This attitude of being neither hot nor cold would never describe Peter. He was passionate and spoke his mind. Maybe it was the fisherman in him that made him so intense. Whatever the reason it made for Peter being mentioned more times in the Gospels than anyone else, besides Jesus.
When you think about Peters life, you probably remember a lot of mistakes. It is not necessarily a kind thing to do to Peter, but lets just take a moment to remember some of the very colorful mistakes Peter made.
When Peter steps out of the boat on the raging sea of Galilee, he takes his eyes off Jesus to see the wind and the waves. Peter looks at his circumstances and sinks in the water. Jesus words for Peter are, "you of little faith" and "why did you doubt"? ( Matthew 14:28)
Even when Peter asked Jesus a question, he has the ability to put his foot in his mouth. "We left everything to follow you Lord", He said to Jesus. Then Peter asks, "What will there be for us? (Matthew 19:27) Not only does Peter misunderstand the nature of Jesus ministry, there is a selfish aspect to his question.
This lack of Peter’s understanding of Jesus and his purposes was epitomized after Jesus spoke to the disciples about his coming death. Following Jesus’ disturbing disclosure, Peter took Jesus aside to forbid him to go to the cross. Peter managed to get the strongest of possible rebukes for this bad idea. Jesus scolds Peter with, "get behind me Satan." (Matthew 16:22-23)
Peter blew it again when the Lord washed the disciples feet. "Never shall you wash my feet Lord," Peter said. When the Lord corrects him Peter goes overboard in the other direction. He requests Jesus to wash his hands and head as well. He just was not tuned in to the purposes of Jesus. (John 13:8) When Peter asked Jesus to explain the parable of the clean and the unclean Jesus asked, "are you still so dull? (Matthew 15:15-16)
Peter slept after the Lord told him to watch and pray in the Garden of Gathsemene. Then the impulsive Peter cuts off the servant’s ear when the temple guards come to arrest his Lord. Jesus commanded Peter, "put the Sword away!" (John 18:11) Again Peter was not understanding the purpose of Christ despite the fact Jesus spoke to his disciples concerning his death.