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Galatians 2





 

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In Galatians chapter 2, Paul continues his letter to the Galatian church by sharing some of his experiences with the church in Jerusalem. He doesn’t do this to spread rumors or create a bad reputation for the believers there; he’s pretty clear throughout all of his writings that his main focus is that all should come to know Jesus. He shares these things with the Galatian church to teach them how to handle issues that they were also dealing with.


The first section of this chapter talks about how he interacted with the leaders of the church in Jerusalem. We see that Paul cares more about the people he’s talking to than just winning an argument. He shows us how we can treat others with dignity, talking to them first in private, as he did with the leaders in verse 2, while still not compromising what he knew to be the truth of the gospel, as we see in verse 5: “But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you.”


See, Paul’s intention in confronting issues in the church was not for his own personal gain, but for the benefit of the people who had not yet come to know Christ and his transforming power. He knew that the things that were being discussed in his lifetime would have ripple effects beyond what he could see, and that anything that could possibly hinder someone believing in Jesus had to go.


We see another example of this in how he talks to Peter in verses 14 through 16: “When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, ‘Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. 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.” In this case, Paul knew it would be more beneficial to the other believers present to publicly address Peter’s hypocrisy. See, Peter was ministering primarily to Jews, but he still treated the Gentile believers as equals. But when other Jewish Christians came into town later on, Peter acted like sharing a meal with Gentile believers was beneath him, which brought shame to the Gentile believers, created confusion about expectations of Christians, and created a false idea for the Jewish Christians about how things had been handled.


I know that it’s really easy to get used to a specific way of doing things, and that once we get set in our ways it’s difficult to change. But when it comes to how we treat people, and how we interact with Jesus, we can’t be so rigid that we block out potential relationships with those who need Christ just as much as we do.


I love the ending section of this chapter, especially verse 21: “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.”


Wow. I know the first time I read that, it was like a punch to the gut. Paul knows that Jesus is more important than doing things a certain way. And I wonder how many times we have unintentionally created barriers for others to know Jesus because of the way we feel things need to be done. My challenge for all of us today is to take some time and ask Jesus to show us what barriers we have set up in our lives that may be hindering us from sharing Jesus with those around us. Are there any preferences, prejudices, or assumptions that are keeping us from introducing the people in our lives to Jesus? How can we get out of the way of the Holy Spirit this week, and be attentive to how he wants to do things?




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