Thursday, October 9, 2008

Peter's Hypocrisy

Let’s pick up our study this week in Galatians 2:11-14, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Peter was playing the hypocrite by withdrawing from the Gentiles when his Jewish buddies would show up. I think that Paul found this particularly disturbing since Peter was the first to be used of God to share the gospel with the Gentiles in Acts 10.

By definition, hypocrisy is “a feigning to be what one is not, a concealment of one's real character or motives, or one who assumes a false appearance.” How many of us have not done that? It reminds me of a story about King Louis XIV. Francois Fenelon was the court preacher for King Louis XIV of France in the 17th century. One Sunday when the king and his attendants arrived at the chapel for the regular service, no one else was there but the preacher. King Louis demanded, "What does this mean?" Fenelon replied, "I had published that you would not come to church today, in order that your Majesty might see who serves God in truth and who flatters the king."

We must be careful that we are not the same way. It’s so easy to pretend and God absolutely despises it. I can’t even begin to tell you how many have told me that the reason they don’t go to church is because of the number of hypocrites that are found there. Yet, that same person will deal with hypocrites every day at work and sees no problem in taking their money. As a pastor, my response to these poor delusional souls was always, “Hey, one more will not hurt! Can I look forward to seeing you Sunday?”

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