For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. Galatians 2:12
Like any normal kid, I was friends with the other kids in my neighborhood while growing up. A couple of them were a year older than me, but we were friends anyway . . . until we were at school. When I ran into them in school, I assumed our friendship remained, but for reasons that were lost on me, they acted like they didn’t even know me once they were around kids their own age. Honestly, they were jerks and I just didn’t get it. I was hurt that those whom I considered friends so quickly abandoned our friendship when they were around those whom they considered better than me.
Though it sounds childish, this is similar to what happened in today’s passage. In the story, Paul reported how he reprimanded Peter for his elitist behavior. Peter once dined with gentiles, but then, when certain Jewish visitors showed up, he abandoned his previous friends, refusing to associate with them. He apparently felt the non-Jews were beneath him and when those whom he considered to be of high standing were watching, the gentiles simply weren’t good enough. For this snobbish behavior, Paul chastised Peter.
It sounds obvious and immature when I think about Peter’s behavior or my childhood school experience. I’m afraid I’ve indulged in this elitist attitude though. Before my own addiction, I would have considered volunteering at the jail and working in addiction medicine as beneath me. Even now, as I’m preparing to take a new position working in jail medicine, I still worry a little about what others will think. To me, it’s an opportunity to serve God and love those in need, but I know that others will not see jail medicine as a career advancement and at times, I let that bother me. I don’t want to be a Christians snob though and when I honestly think about it, I’m joyful that God is using me to reach those whom we would consider lowly.
As Christians, we know that we’re all on the same level before God. We may have once thought ourselves to be better than others, but we’ve all sinned and we’re all in need of a savior (Romans 3:23). When we come to faith, we do have a new Spirit-filled life, but if we boast, we can boast only in God, not ourselves. God loves us all and shows no partiality (Galatians 2:6). Neither then should we.