Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Today, in Mercy, Paul and Peter have a big fight – two of the Greats take it to the mat over an issue of inclusivity in the early Church.
To put the episode in a nutshell, Peter had succumbed to political pressure from Jewish Christians to isolate non-Jewish Christians from full participation in the Church. The pressure was rooted in nationalism, religious prejudice and unexamined fear. Peter, in an attempt to manage these forces, made a huge misstep.
Paul, seeing that Peter’s actions would set a dangerous and divisive precedent in the emerging Church, confronted him before the whole community. For a moment in time, these two pillars of Christianity stood on separate shores.
Ultimately, through prayer, respect and discernment, Peter and Paul continued together to shepherd the embryonic Church toward a new reality – one built on, but beyond, the Judaism in which they both had been raised.
The Church, as a living reality, will always be challenged by issues of growth, identity, inclusion and other concerns. But as soon as we define ourselves as anything other than simply Christians, we run the risk of moving to our own “separate shores”.
We are not conservative or liberal Christians. We are not American, or European or Asian Christians. We are not gay or straight, Black or White, male or female, rich or poor Christians.
We are all sisters and brothers in the Gospel of Christ, standing on the same shore with Him, praying to our one Father. May this shared prayer help us to become who we are called to be.
Music: Lord, Teach Us to Pray ~ Joe Wise