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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Saturday-In Line

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

Galatians 2:14

When I shattered my ankle, it was twisted like a limp noodle. It was just hanging out to the left in a sickening, unnatural sort of way. They sent for an orthopedic surgeon who took one look at it and said, “Well, we’re going to have to straighten that out.”

And that’s what he and a team of talented doctors, nurses, and technicians did. They straightened out the break, reassembling the 15 or so pieces of bone that were just hanging around inside my leg.

After the surgery, he showed Mary Ann the x-ray of all the pieces of metal they installed. She gasped and wondered if I’d ever walk again. He calmly reassured that I’d be ok when it all healed. Looking at the x-ray again, with the seven screws holding my leg straight, she gave me a cute, playful name that has stayed with me to this day: Frankenfoot.

Yes, there are scars on either side of my ankle. Yes, my right ankle is a bit bigger than my left. Yes, it’s a bit stiff, not moving quite as well as the other. Yes, it does sometimes hurt when a storm comes. But it’s straight and strong.

Paul is trying to do the same thing with the truth of Jesus that my orthopedic doctor did with my broken ankle. To make it straight again. To take what had been broken and to make it whole again. To take what was weak and make it strong enough so that it can move around without a limp.

He’s looking at Peter and telling him that he was not walking or living like Jesus lived and walked. Peter took the clear path of who God is and what he’s said, and made it into a confused, jumbled mess. He took the straight truth and made it a crooked lie. He took the strong, direct way that God wants us to walk through this life and turned it into a weak, shuffling, twisted path.

The only way to challenge Peter and their crooked life was to talk with him directly. Not to pray for him. Not to challenge him to a debate. Not to start a social media campaign, trying to arouse people to outrage. There was no opinion letter to the editors against them either. Peter did this in public, so it deserved a direct public answer.

And Pauls’ reply could be summarized like this: you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth. You say one thing and do another. You tell people to live a certain way when you can’t even do it yourself. You’re trying to make people obey laws that you continually fail to keep.

Peter was saying one thing and doing another. He was pretending to know who God is and live for him. But in reality, he was no better than everyone else. In one sense, Peter was worse. He was a pretender. He was a hypocrite.

Peter knew that it was OK for Jews to keep the laws that God gave to them. And it was equally OK for the Gentiles to be free not to keep them. God had spoken to Peter in a dream, saying that he had made the Gentiles clean in Jesus. It was wrong to say they were unclean, or to act like they were[1]. Peter even made a public statement about this.

but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean

Acts 10:28b

But like us, under public pressure, Peter folded like a cheap suit. He didn’t stand up for the truth. He let criticism from the rich, powerful and influential get the best of him.

There are people all around you that you’re probably afraid to talk with because of what others might say. They don’t have a lot of money. They aren’t popular. They don’t dress well. They act a little bit strange. And they probably smell.

But not only are these the people that Jesus came for. Died for. In a real sense, that’s who we are in front of God without Jesus. We’re not clean in front of a holy God. The stench from who we are, and our sin, would choke a horse. Our so-called good works are filthy beyond anything we can imagine.

And yet, what did God do? Did he turn his back on us? Did he walk away? Run away? No. Just the opposite. He came to earth to pay the eternal debt that we had gotten ourselves into. We had no way out. And we had nothing attractive about ourselves. He didn’t come as a conquering king, born in wealth and in a castle. He came as a baby born to a poor family that was on the road because of political and economic unrest.

If we saw a young couple arriving from out of town, with nothing but the cloths on their backs, would we stop to help them? When we saw that the young woman was really pregnant, would we invite them to stay and help them? If we’re honest, we wouldn’t.

But that didn’t stop God from coming and dying to bring us back to him. He walked the straight line to Earth. To Bethlehem. To Jerusalem. To the cross. For people just like you and me.

Noodling Questions

  • Are you someone who naturally stays inside the lines? Explain.

  • How do you feel when you see someone not standing up for the truth?

  • How is being a servant to people being in line with God?

[1] Acts 10:9-16

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