I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. – Galatians 2:20
Many of us don’t seem to learn a lesson the first time. This seems to be the case with the apostle Peter, who still had trouble accepting differences in Gentile eating customs even after the Lord had given him a vision saying, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15).
When Peter separated himself from Gentile Christians, Paul recognized that he was failing to live wisely in light of the gospel. Peter’s refusal to eat with them made a strong statement–Gentile believers are not equals. Paul understood that Peter was, in effect, denying the heart and power of the gospel message. By refusing to eat with the Gentile converts Peter was essentially saying that the love God had granted to Gentiles as a result of their faith in the gospel was of no effect and until they adopted the practices of the Jewish Law, they were not fully equal members of Jesus’ church. To Paul’s dismay, even Peter, one of the original disciples, failed to grasp the meaning of the gospel.
Paul’s point is this: everyone who believes in Jesus has in effect been crucified with Jesus. As a result of Jesus’ death and resurrection, justification is available, by faith, for those who belong to Christ.
Many of us can relate to Peter and his reluctance to let go of his old ideas of what it means to serve God. Although God may not send us a dramatic vision as He did to Peter, He still speaks through His Word to us to align our ideas with His.
Ask yourself this question: Are there people in your church or neighborhood you have not been “eating with’ because they are not “like you”? Paul would say: Remember the grace God has showered on you.