Confronting a Friend
Gal. 2:11 ¶ But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned;
Gal. 2:12 for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction.
Gal. 2:13 And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Gal. 2:14 But when I saw that they were not acting consistently 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 compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Paul was troubled by Peter’s (Cephas) behavior. Peter had adjusted his relationship with the Gentiles to please certain Jews. Others were watching the way in which Peter would treat the Gentiles and they followed his example, including Paul’s own Barnabas. I can only imagine Paul’s frustration at all of this! However, instead of going behind Peter’s back with his frustration, he confronted his friend and talked with him directly about his concerns. The concerns were addressed, as they had to be, for the behavior of Peter and others was damaging the witness of the truth of the gospel and life within the kingdom.
Paul evaluated a situation and was gravely concern with the hypocrisy which he was witnessing. He knew that action had to be taken because the witness of the gospel was being damaged in the process. He realized that he would have to confront Peter, and that took a lot of courage. Paul was not one of the original disciples and here he would need to talk to the defacto leader of the Apostles, Peter. However, he didn’t shrink back, but spoke directly to Peter.
There may be times when we need to confront a friend regarding their behavior. Now, let’s be careful here. Paul didn’t confront people over every little thing, nor did he spend his time pointing out everything wrong he could find about people. Instead, he became concerned when the witness about Christ was being damaged. His concern was the gospel message! At that point he knew that he had to protect the truth and take action. It is at this point that we may need to take action and confront those whose actions are becoming a distraction to the gospel.
It’s important to note the way in which Paul took action. I don’t believe that he went behind Peter’s back and gossiped about what he had done. However, that is far too often the way in which we act and/or respond to difficult situations. Instead of confronting them, we complain about them with others. There are even times when we plan strategic complaint sessions with individuals that we hope will carry the cause for us so that we don’t have to. This is inappropriate. By this type of behavior we are creating even more problems. Instead, when we feel compelled by what we have learned and/or discovered, we must take direction action, as did the Apostle Paul.
Paul’s confrontation of Peter led to a group decision regarding the official stance in relationship to Gentiles. In other words, it helped to clarify what was happening and it helped further the ministry of the new fledgling Church. By confronting Peter the community of faith was able to openly discuss their concerns and draw official conclusions that helped everyone involved. It just took someone being willing to confront the issue.
When major concerns arise we may be called upon to take action. If this is the case, then take action, but don’t gossip. Work to find positive solutions instead of grumbling and complaining. In this way the truth of the gospel will shine through and even more people will be drawn to Christ.
Lord, thank you for leading us into truth. Amen.