Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Necessary Confrontation

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 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. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?  Galatians 2:11-14

Personally I do not like confrontations.  Over the years I have tried my best to avoid them but I have found some confrontations are necessary for love to continue.

The Apostle Paul confronts the Apostle Peter face to face because it was necessary. Paul could not ignore the love stopping behavior of the man who preached the sermon on the day of Pentecost.  Wow!  This certainly lets us know that none of us is free from needing a confrontation from time to time!

Paul loved Peter and the church Peter represented too much to simply ignore what he had seen. This was a necessary confrontation.  Love demanded it.

Paul had seen a change in Peter's behavior in his dealing with the Gentile disciples in the church at Galatia.  Peter had treated them as equals until a group of Jewish disciples came to visit.  While the Jewish disciples were in town Peter no longer ate with the Gentiles.  Paul called Peter out face to face because the equality of all believers was at stake.  Peter was too important a voice and symbol to miss this necessary confrontation.  Peter needed to be reminded that a church where equality is lost is no longer the church of Jesus Christ.

There is a valuable lesson in this story for all of us.  When we see someone doing something that is destructive to them and to love, then someone who loves them and loves to see Christ's love flow must confront them.   No matter how powerful they are and how much they have done in the past they need to be confronted.

If a person is doing something to stop love and they see clearly what they are doing then a confrontation will do little or no good.  The person will simply marginalize the person confronting and hide behind their own false superior spirituality.

If, however, the person actually is not seeing clearly the evil they are doing, they will listen if the right person confronts them in love. Not everyone is called to confront every evil they see.  God raises up a Paul to confront Peter.  Who else could have gotten his attention?  Who had paid the price as a Jew to love the Gentiles?

I have been confronted several times over the years by people who love me and love the flow of Christ's  love.  I am so thankful these people were a part of the churches I was leading!  They respectfully followed my leadership but they knew me well enough to know I could go in the wrong direction  but I did not want to stop Christ's love.

I have confronted other leaders over the years when I could clearly see that their errors were not errors of the heart.  Those leaders listened and made the necessary changes.

If you see someone of influence stopping love then pray that God will raise up the right person for the necessary confrontation.  Perhaps you are that person.  Perhaps it is someone else.  Pray until the right person receives the difficult task of the necessary confrontation.  Christ's love and its flow are too important for us to fear a necessary confrontation.


Bud McCord
Abide International

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