Former boxer Evander Holyfield earned the nickname the Real Deal. Part of the promotion and success of boxing involved putting on a good show. Pre-fight press conferences gave opponents the opportunity to talk smack, trash talking to encourage more viewers to tune into the actual fight. Former promoter Don King was infamous for staging brawls, emotional outbursts and scuffles to make headlines in the sports worlds. When it was time to fight, Holyfield is the only four-time world heavyweight champion. Thus, Holyfield’s words matched his talent.
But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I protested and opposed him to his face [concerning his conduct there], for he was blameable and stood condemned. 12 For up to the time that certain persons came from James, he ate his meals with the Gentile [converts]; but when the men [from Jerusalem] arrived, he withdrew and held himself aloof from the Gentiles and [ate] separately for fear of those of the circumcision [party], Galatians 2:11-12.
In the Bible, the apostle Paul took his zealous past as a Pharisee and applied this toward his Christian faith. Paul didn’t make any exceptions, calling out disciples of Jesus when their actions didn’t reflect their faith. During a visit to Galatia, Paul noticed that Peter began to backslide, altering his belief about Gentile Christians. A religious sect known as the Judaizers attempted to add Jewish practices to salvation. Afraid of their influence within Galatia, Peter withdrew from his Gentile friends, succumbing to peer pressure.
And the rest of the Jews along with him also concealed their true convictions and acted insincerely, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy (their example of insincerity and pretense). 14 But as soon as I saw that they were not straightforward and were not living up to the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) before everybody present, If you, though born a Jew, can live [as you have been living] like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how do you dare now to urge and practically force the Gentiles to [comply with the ritual of Judaism and] live like Jews? – Galatians 2:13-14
When I read the Bible, there is a tendency to elevate first century Christians to elite status. Yet, as the apostle Paul writes in the passage above, human nature influences everyone. Saints are not immune to temptation as the man nicknamed the rock wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the pressure to conform. This chapter of Galatians serves as a spiritual survey to see if you are the Real Deal or if you still have a long way to go? May you take any current failure, imperfection or mistake as an opportunity to improve by growing closer to Jesus.
by Jay Mankus