So, the stiff shoulder was the way to go?
Barnabas was a little confused. Wasn't Peter talking to that Gentile man earlier? Yeah, he was. They had been talking and laughing. Peter shared a story about Jesus that had the entire gathering riveted. Now Peter wouldn't even look at the man. Actually, he wouldn't look at any of the Gentiles... Not since the men James sent had arrived...
The Jews in the group had picked up on Peter's actions, and swiftly the crowd had been split down the middle. The entire atmosphere of the gathering had changed. Whereas before it had been like a celebration, now it was strained. Jews only talked with other Jews. Gentiles looked longingly towards them. Or their expressions were filled with a cold anger so strong that Barnabas could feel the breeze.
Uncertainty flooded his heart. What was he supposed to do? He had nothing against the Gentiles. In fact, he and Paul had been ministering to them. He even called some of them friends.
But Peter was one of the twelve disciples. He had been in Jesus' close circle for three years. If he was acting like this, wasn't it the right thing to do?
Barnabas got up slowly, and walked across the room. It felt like all eyes were on him. His footsteps seemed to echo as he took his side, and settled at the same table as Peter - far away from the Gentiles.
Based on Galatians 2:12-13
"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 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. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'" Galatians 2:11-4
When I read this, I think about stumbling blocks. Despite good or bad intentions, or being swept away by peer pressure, Peter was a stumbling block to those around him. The Jews respected Peter, so when they saw him acting hypocritically towards the Gentiles, they did as well. Even Barnabas, a minister to the Gentiles, took the "talk to the hand" route! And it was because of Peter's actions.
There's a situation that I'm going through were someone is acting quite poorly, and it's become a real stumbling block to me. In the midst of all my grumbling and heartache, I had this horrible, horrible thought.
What am I doing/screwing up that is a stumbling block to those who are watching me? (Not to mention all the things I've screwed up in the past.)
"But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."
1 Corinthians 8:9
It is so easy for our actions to trip up someone who is looking to us to be the light. More then ever, we need to weigh our actions on the What Would Jesus Do scale. People are watching and learning from us. The questions is, are they learning the things of God, or how to be snooty and hypocritical?
V. Joy Palmer