By Patrick Hawthorne
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. (Galatians NKJV.)
I remember the old school days. I was never the popular kid nor was I the unpopular kid. I was kind of in the middle. You know…the kid who was just there; the one who everyone seemed to tolerate as long as I kept out of their way. Don’t get me wrong. I was fine with being that kid. It worked out well for me because I preferred staying back in the shadows.
There were times, however, when I was the only familiar face in a crowd and a cool kid would come and talk to me because they did not know anyone else. We would talk and enjoy each others company, that is, until the familiar face of another cool kid entered the room. It was then that the first cool kid gravitated to the other. Once again, I became the shadow in the group, tolerated but forgotten.
In a Biblical comparison of Galatians 2:12, the cool kid was Peter and I was the gentile. In Galatians 2:12-13, we read that Paul admonished Peter because of his fear of the Jews of the circumcision. The word “fear” is phobeomai (φοβέομαι) which in this case refers to an improper impediment to faith and love (Mounce Greek Dictionary). In other words, Peter was not afraid of the people, per-say, but was afraid of what they thought of him for hanging out with the gentiles.
When dealing with our non-Christian friends, there are three main questions we must ask ourselves, When our Christian friends come around, do we have the tendency to withdraw from our non-Christian friends? If so, is it because we are behaving badly with our non-Christian friends? Or, is it because we are afraid of what our Christian friends might think because we are not hanging out with the “in crowd?” In either case, we are playing the hypocrite and are damaging our witness.
Jesus was never one who cared about what others thought of Him? He was happy hanging out with saints and sinners alike because it was them who changed, not Him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. May we be imitators of Jesus so that hypocrisy may never be found within us . Be blessed.