Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here’s the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade…
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Galatians 2:11-13, 21 (The Message)
Jesus said I must be born again (John 3:7). He wants me to throw off the old dead me that I was and know who I am now! I am a child who is saved by the love â€“ extravagant love â€“ of God.
I cannot live with God as a sinner. There is no eternity with Him for me if I am not reconciled to holiness like He is holy. And I cannot fix that no matter how hard I try! Paul’s recurring theme is about grace. We are saved by grace not law.
Oh, but we still try to put that milestone around the necks of ourselves and others, don’t we?
- You aren’t really saved unless you know the day and time you made the commitment and came forward in front of at least â€“ 50 people. (arbitrary number)
- You are only saved when you know (and so does everyone else!) that you are Spirit-filled.
- You are only saved if you do (or don’t do) _________.
With this kind of judgmental attitude, I am no better than the hypocrites about which Paul condemned! Paul said that I do not even have to be Jewish to be saved (Galatians 2:15-16)! Paul, the Pharisee of the Pharisees, says that. I am saved because of love. That’s it.
Yesterday, in my testimony, I spoke about how Jesus’ love flooded and healed my heart. It has been an ongoing process to accept this gift that is freely given. My life is brand new and my heart is healed. It is done. But I had another â€œGod momentâ€ yesterday as I was driving down the road. â€œGod, You love me. There are no conditions put on that. You love me. It is a sin for me to reject that gift. My Father wants me to feel His love; His loving arms around me 24/7.â€ I wept with the sweetness and joy of that moment.
I do not think that I am alone in the difficulty of accepting and understanding the enormity of God’s love for me. I believe that I will learn more about His love the more that I grow in my relationship, spend time with God, and learn about Him. It’s like a great marriage that really gets better and better with each year.