Trouble with Peter

Oh snap,  I just found a passage worth sharing.

With my friend Maddie, we recently spoke of how much I dislike Peter the apostle. It’s not a good thing to favorize specific apostles instead of others, but Peter just bothers me. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, but it’s good to keep in the corner of my mind, so I know where my blindspots lie.

Maddie was raised in a church. Her experience with faith is way different than mine, and she believes in the goodness of some structures of authority more than I do. We’ve had different experiences, and I’m glad, because it helps me understand. She didn’t agree with why I dislike Peter, but to each his/her own.

The pasage comes from Galatians 2:11-14. It talks about Paul opposing Peter for behaving like a hypocrite and being spooked when breaking bread with some Gentiles, as if their uncircumcision was cooties. Paul gets right to the point, calling Peter out in front of everyone on his nonsense.

If I stop to think, I can see it from both sides. Peter is still trying to adjust to the magnitude of God’s promise, under the covenant fulfilled under Christ. The Jews and the Gentiles were raised to oppose one another, and Peter is still processing what that even means, even if he and James and John sent Paul to make them disciples after being told of it (Galatians 2:9). I can kind of understand, because sometimes yiu think you’re going to be perfectly okay with something, and once you actually see it and experience it, you’re really not. What I don’t like is how he didn’t use his discomfort as an opportunity to lean in to God’s love. It’s important that Peter isnt perfect (because none of us are), and if I actually consider it, I’m not sure it’s fair for Paul to flip out so immediately.

I think with a lot of internalized sin, we just have to be constantly turning more and more over to God. Sometimes if you persecute yourself for getting it wrong, you’ll stunt your understanding when you should just keep trying.  In my opinion, it’s better to move on and find a better way, because then you can just live it out. I know that each person has the potential to have a different spiritual process, but sometimes it feels like in the time you spend trying to please others and make up for mistakes with long apologies, you distract yourself from the part of the gospel that allows you to be a new creation. We should still apologize and forgive if we have wronged/been wronged by others, but sometimes the best choice is to keep moving and trust God to  bring those opportunities to you.

Honestly, we don’t know about the long range results of Paul’s outburst. We don’t know if Peter’s heart was changed, or Paul was totally off base, or if they ever eventually got along after that. Maybe someone wrote it down, but I think that the most important take away from this section is to be bold in denouncing behaviors that diminish from the gospel, while still trying to be understanding of the complexity in how sin can take over our lives. No two people struggle with the same exact set of sin, and we all need somewhat tense conversations to keep one another accountable. Ad the body of Christ, we should have enough understanding of the Holy Spirit to call one another on our nonsense, but still walk in love.

Who knows? I bet Peter is actually a nice guy. Even if he felt the need to separate himself, that is just one sin, in one instance. He probably shouldn’t have made himself so separate, but it all comes down to the fact that, “Who are we to judge?”


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I am a teacher-to-be who loves people. I am not afraid of many things. I like to explain my thoughts logically on a very birds-eye view level--I was born thinking that way. I follow Jesus Christ, and I accept only that label to describe my identity--that I am a child of God, as are infinite others, regardless of their other identities. Christ is my one thing.

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