Who we eat with at our table reveals who we consider family and who we accept as equals. Whether it’s white missionaries in Kenya who won’t eat around the table in their homes with African believers, board members of one of our preeminent evangelical seminaries who wouldn’t shake hands with a black student joining the student body or Jews way back in the first century who wouldn’t be caught dead eating with Gentiles, down through the centuries, racism keeps raising its ugly head destroying the oneness Jesus rooted in the Gospel.
As the Church was just beginning to grow, God demanded that Peter enter the home of the Roman Cornelius and the Holy Spirit came upon the entire family. Peter’s openness to fellowship with Gentiles causes us to shake our heads over what he did a few years later in Antioch. What did Paul do when Peter, the Rock, the leader among Jesus’ original Twelve, started erecting walls dividing Christ’s Family?
“Now when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I resisted him face to face because he was guilty. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with Gentiles, but when they came he withdrew himself because he was afraid of his circumcised countrymen. And the rest of the Jews joined him in this pretentious action. Even Barnabas was carried away in this hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not walking consistently in the path of the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, ‘If you being ethnically Jewish are not living as a Jew, how is it that you are forcing the Gentiles to live like Jews?’”
At our Cultural Engagement Emphasis at Southern Bible, Pastor Kyle Redel of The Parks Church in McKinney used Paul’s confrontation of Peter to challenge us. Kyle stressed we must be intentional about not allowing our peer racial group to control us and keep us from connecting across racial lines. And when we see barriers being created, even if it is being done by prominent, powerful Christian leaders, we must confront. There needs to be face to face rebuke in order to stop behavior inconsistent with the Gospel. This confrontation must be done with humility and grace, but it must be done. We cannot allow members of Christ’s family to label another member as unclean, inferior, not worthy of a place at our table.
LORD, keep giving us insight into how to create open, sharing opportunities for different parts of the Body of Christ to sit down, eat, and be family. Use us to show unbelievers that you actually do have a multi-racial, multi-generational, divers family.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!