11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
Peter struggled braving grace. Paul called him out for lacking the courage to live out grace no matter who was around. Peter talked about grace and spent time with Gentiles, but as soon as “important” Jews showed up, he took up religion. Under Judaism, Jews were not supposed to eat with Gentiles. But grace erases those boundaries. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul made it clear that Jesus has made the two nations one.
Braving grace means living out the true Gospel regardless of other people. Religion can be intimidating to those who aren’t confident in the message of grace. Performance-based religion permeates most people’s thinking. Living out true grace requires a willingness to swim upstream and the determination to persist regardless of the religious, opinionated input that you will encounter, whether from other people or your own thoughts.
Peter’s hypocrisy impacted others. The Jews that were with him followed his lead. How we live out grace sets an example and we can cause people to be bold for Jesus or like Peter, we can lead them to fall back out of the fear of man. The fear of man really is the only thing that causes us to play the hypocrite regarding grace. We fear the disapproval, the religious judgement, and the holier-than-thou attitudes displayed by those who don’t understand. But when the truth of grace really takes hold in your life, that fear falls away.
Paul had the courage to withstand Peter to his face because the revelation of grace permeated his very existence. He was redeemed from religion and wasn’t about to go back. The world is crying out for the people of God to embrace grace fully, to pursue understanding the New Covenant and to proclaim boldly the real gospel truth. The world is dying to know about grace. It is imperative that we be steadfast in speaking and living the true gospel. Jesus didn’t come to give us religion. John 1:17 says that the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. There can be no middle ground. It’s either Jesus or religious rules. Braving grace demands a decision.