The ‘In’ Crowd
Do you have a difficult time planning whom to invite to a party? As you flip through the pages of your address book do you see friends with whom you are quite comfortable in one setting and other friends with whom you are comfortable in an entirely different setting? Yet it would be quite another thing to mix these two sorts of friends together? Do you behave a certain way with one group and another way with the other?
The Bible has a name for people who behave differently depending on the company they keep; it’s a nasty word: hypocrites.
Paul latched on to this right away when he saw it had cropped up its ugly head in Peter… then spread to other Jews… and then even wormed its insidious way into Barnabas. Barnabas! The one believer who really knew better. It was Barnabas who first reached out to Paul… who brought him to the other believers, vouched for him because he knew the grace of God could transform even a legalistic Pharisee and Christian killer like Paul.
Something had to be done!
Peter had come to Antioch and had been enjoying wonderful fellowship with the Gentile (non-jewish) believers there. But when his old Jewish buddies from Jerusalem showed up the situation got awkward! What would they think of his camaraderie with non-jews — uncircumcised people outside of the line of Abraham? Yes, God had extended grace to the Gentiles. Peter had had that vision, had seen the Spirit fall upon the household of Cornelius, but Jews and Gentiles together? What would James and those with him think? He began to pull back.
Hear Paul tell it…
“When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For 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. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas 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?’” (Gal. 2:11-14).
The ‘In’ Crowd. It can sneak up on even a mature believer… a mentor… a leader in the Church. Don’t let it sneak up on you. Live to please not the crowd, not the fads of passing fashion, not the opinions of the majority, but live to please the Lord… the Maker of us all.