So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” Acts 11:2
It’s always amazed me how quickly an addict can become judgmental towards others. In treatment himself, only a few days sober, the newly recovered addict suddenly has the audacity to look down on those still making poor choices. He can clearly see everyone else’s mistakes and he feels free to point them out. Never mind that he was using just a few days before, now he’s found recovery and in it, his pride swells to the point where he condescends to those he feels are beneath him.
It’s a bizarre phenomenon of which I’ve been guilty. Though I’d lost my job and my marriage was on the rocks, once I got sober, it was terribly tempting to be judgmental of those who hadn’t yet. I should have been the most compassionate person on the planet, but there I was, annoyed by those still struggling. You people are so stupid. What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you get sober like me?
Something similar to this occurred in today’s passage. In the story, God commanded Peter to take the gospel to gentiles, who were subsequently filled with the Holy Spirit. Unlike the Jewish followers of Christ, these gentiles weren’t circumcised, which upset some of the Jewish Christians who chastised Peter. Why do you associate with those people? They’re not like us.
It seems like they should have known better. Jesus, after all, associated with tax collectors and prostitutes. In following Christ’s example, they should have been filled with his grace and mercy. They should have been the most compassionate people in the world. In finding faith though, they became arrogant and condescending towards those who weren’t like them. We don’t associate with you people.
Unfortunately, this is terribly tempting for us as followers of Christ. Believing ourselves to be on the right path, we look down on those who are not. In our pride, arrogance and condescension, we look at those people with loathing. The problem is that in looking down on others, we’re not following Christ’s example at all. As Christians, we should be the most loving, compassionate people in the world. If we truly follow Christ, we must follow his example, loving as he loved us. We are, after all, those people for whom he died.