Galatians 2:11-14 (ESV)
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Peter clearly lost track of what is important. It is easy for any of us to do, but we must guard against the hypocrisy. It is too easy to find ourselves wrapped up in peer pressure, instead of living the gospel message. Jesus never gave in to peer pressure. He treated most everybody the same. Yes there were a couple exceptions. I think the exceptions were to inspire those people to rise above their circumstances and fight for what they wanted from Him. The only time Christ was really harsh was with the leaders, the rulers of the day. They thought they were too good to help people.
Yet Jesus ate with sinners. He hung out with fishermen. And as noted above those fishermen were sometimes susceptible to doing the wrong thing as well.
So how do we apply this to our daily lives? We should not play favorites. We should accept everyone as equals, and not treat people differently depending on their status (social class) in life. We should make an effort to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. We should help the homeless, the widows, the orphans. Sometimes help is not just giving them something, but rather helping them find a better way. Finding a job, a place to live, mentoring the orphan, etc. These things require more effort. More consideration. More compassion. Live like we care for others.
Who knows? Maybe God will use even me, despite my weaknesses.
by Virgil Stripes
Photo: the doorway to the Church of the Nativity was made small because when the Persians captured the area in the 4th century, they used to ride horses into the building. So the Church walled in the doorway so that all who enter the church must bow their heads to enter.