We recently looked as part of The Promise series at how the Holy Spirit gives us power to break divides. We looked at how he helps us to break divides that exist in church, in our workplaces, at school, college, among neighbours and families.
One of those divides is race.
As a Church we need to be constantly helping each other in our ignorance, having conversations, raising awareness, challenging each other and always asking the Holy Spirit to give us power to break race divides and to restore racial harmony where it is lacking.
Peter is a great example of a Spirit-filled follower of Jesus in the Bible, who over time got caught up in a racial divide. As a Jewish man, he had been part of taking the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:34-35). But years later, he is rebuked by Paul for his hypocrisy in not eating with the Gentiles when a group of Jews arrived in Antioch (Galatians 2:11-13). He was living double standards and allowing prejudice to bring back an unwelcome divide.
Peter’s mistake can so easily be our mistake. I don’t know why Peter did what he did. Was he afraid of conflict? Was he worried that he couldn’t stand up for his freedom when the circumcised Jews arrived? Maybe he was afraid that people would call him out for being in line with Paul’s way of life?
I’m not sure what he was afraid of. Maybe a mixture of all three. But for some reason fear ruined his relationship with the Gentiles. He was free, he was eating with the Gentiles across ethnic divides, and fear for a moment destroyed the diversity and the harmony.
We need to make sure that fear, prejudice, and stereotypes don’t ruin our joyful freedom in living and working and worshipping and relaxing and eating with fellow followers of Jesus who are different from ourselves.