Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Read the Text: Galatians 2:11-16
“As Christians, let us never forget the Power of our influence.”
We are accountable to God. There are many places in the New Testament where we read about how we are to treat others.
Jesus: We are to treat others as we want to be treated. Matthew 7:12
James: Don’t show favoritism based on externals like money. James 2:1 ff
John: We lay down our life for brothers when we meet their needs. I John 3:16
Paul: Sexual, ethnic and social differences make no real difference. Galatians 3:28
In the text today, Paul argues against the fiction that racial and ethnic differences make any difference before God.
The Old Testament law built a wall between Jew and Gentile. It kept the Jewish people intact until the Messiah came through them. But once the Messiah came, there was no longer any reason for a distinction between Jew and Gentile. At the cross Jesus fulfilled the law and tore down the division that it created between Jew and Gentile.
Read Ephesians 2:14-16 “For he himself (Christ) is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
Now, Peter of all people should have understood about showing partiality, but he failed in this instance in Antioch. Look at what Peter had done in the past.
He received a vision that taught him that Gentiles were accepted. Acts 10:9-18
The Spirit then led him to see that God is no respecter of persons. Acts 10: 34-45
Then Peter personally baptized the very first Gentile convert. Acts 10:47-48
But Peter’s actions in Antioch spoke louder than his words.
For Paul, Peter’s temporary compromise here had very serious consequences. First, it led Peter into an obvious hypocrisy. His posturing for the brothers from Jerusalem led him to act in a way contrary to his beliefs. Second, Peter’s hypocritical behavior influenced others into mimicking his behavior. Even Barnabas was led away. Third, this behavior had a devastating impact on the young Gentile Christians in Galatia who were effectively shunned by Peter’s behavior.
You and I Today (Application)
Like Peter we know that God is no respecter of persons. We know that God does not judge people based on the socioeconomic, ethnic or cultural factors that are so important to the world. No one has a special place in God’s heart. Or more to the point, everyone has exactly the same special place in God’s heart. We know this. These are our words.
But like Peter, our actions can speak louder than words. Like Peter, we can allow the values of the world to cause us to judge others like the world judges. We are less likely to accept people that are different than us. We also tend to be more acceptable of attractive people, thinner people, and younger people. Those are values of this world, and we are impacted by them. The person who will tell you that they don’t have any problem with any of this will probably lie to you about other things too!
I would hope that we would all agree that racism and prejudice violate the very message of freedom, love and equality that are so central to the gospel of grace.
Read James 2:1-4 and Read I John 4:20-21
Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus died on the cross to bring all people together into one family. There is no distinction. It is not just a dream where “people are not judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character.” That is the world God calls us to create.
We need to live by the implications of the cross. It means more than just having an integrated church; it means making sure the life and fellowship of the church is integrated. It means more than just accepting people in lower economic levels; it means removing the barrier that makes them feel ill at ease around us. It means more than just accepting people of different cultural backgrounds; it means sacrificing some comfort so that they are made more comfortable.
In a world of ethnic division and sectarian violence, we preach Christ crucified. The message of the gospel is that at the cross God affirmed his love for all people and struck a death blow to Satan on behalf of all people. God’s love does not recognize skin color or socioeconomics. Neither does it recognize nationality, educational level, language, or whether or not a person has tattoos, body piercings or spiked hair. At the cross, God makes one all those who will accept His grace and His call to holiness.
That is our message today. But it is more than our message; it must be how we live.
You see, actions speak louder than words.
Doug Haught, Minister at Cold Harbor Road church of Christ