Sunday, 20 September 2015


This chapter is about unity - and it is Paul who initiated the discussions, going to Jerusalem in response to God telling him, to meet with the apostles and make sure he was on the right track.

Amazing. He'd been 14 years on his own already, doing his own 'following God' thing.  He was welcomed, included, supported ..."I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing. And they supported me....James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews.  Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do."

And yet... the very next thing we find is that Paul confronted Peter, accusing him of doing wrong by no longer eating with the Gentiles. Peter had begun to draw back and separate himself from the non-Jews because he was worried about what the Jews would say: Paul brought this into the open and told Peter openly that he was a hypocrite and wrong to do so.

Oh, to have the courage to tell someone face to face that they are wrong. To risk the anger and condemnation and ridicule that would surely come my way. I have been on the receiving end of it, of course - and am very good at accepting blame, even when something I have done has not been intended, has been taken the wrong way or perhaps I haven't even done wrong at all - it has just been 'different'.

(That sounds like another topic altogether: 'different' doesn't necessarily mean 'wrong'.  Can we not just accept our differences?)

Galatians 2:16 "Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law." This is a reminder that the one thing I NEED is to be in right relationship with Jesus: it's not about just DOING stuff, it's about who I am with him.  It's like my marriage: I can DO all the right things to invest in my marriage - serving my husband, spending time with him - but if our relationship is not right, then we do not communicate well and we do not feel 'right' with each other.

But, actually, if I know the truth of THIS; "I have been nailed to the cross with Christ. 20 I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.21 I don’t turn my back on God’s undeserved kindness." (v19 - 21)  then I can live a life of love given freely: for I was enslaved by sin and have been SET FREE!

I can be generous, even when I feel grudging.
I can give the benefit of the doubt, even when I want to gain revenge.
I can love without expectation, even when I expect loving.

I CAN. Because HE DID. He died. For me. End.of.story.

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