Summary: Dealing with what causes conflict in the church and how to resolve it.
1, September 2002
Dakota Community Church
11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before 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. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14When 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?
15"We who are Jews by birth and not ’Gentile sinners’ 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
17"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
Two men who lived in a small village got into a terrible dispute that they could not resolve. So they decided to talk to the town sage. The first man went to the sage’s home and told his version of what happened. When he finished, the sage said, "You’re absolutely right." The next night, the second man called on the sage and told his side of the story. The sage responded, "You’re absolutely right." Afterward, the sage’s wife scolded her husband. "Those men told you two different stories and you told them they were absolutely right. That’s impossible—they can’t both be absolutely right." The sage turned to his wife and said, "You’re absolutely right."
Some people really like to avoid a conflict. I should know because I’m one of them.
Avoiding confrontation is often a recipe for even greater conflict and pain.
First the source of conflict, then the solution:
1. The source of conflict.
12Before 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
Fear was the key to Peter’s downfall, but fear of what?
Of being thought less of, of losing influence? Clearly not fear of God, but fear of men.
Fear of what others might think is so often at the heart of conflict.
6Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
Francois Fenelon was the court preacher for King Louis XIV of France in the 17th century. One Sunday when the king and his attendants arrived at the chapel for the regular service, no one else was there but the preacher. King Louis demanded, "What does this mean?" Fenelon replied, "I had published that you would not come to church today, in order that your Majesty might see who serves God in truth and who flatters the king."
Peter was not pretending to serve God for the sake of others but he was pretending that He didn’t associate with the non-law-keeping gentile believers when the law-observant Jews came to visit. Imagine the impact of this behavior on these believers.
What genuinely makes this hypocrisy is the fact that Peter was clearly acting in a way contrary to the belief that he held.
It wasn’t that he was siding theologically with the Judaizers; he simply didn’t want them to think less of him.
6He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: