Day 23: Charade

Paper Tigers & Impressing God

A Write 31 Days Series

Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here’s the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.

But when I saw that they were not maintaining a steady, straight course according to the Message, I spoke up to Peter in front of them all: “If you, a Jew, live like a non-Jew when you’re not being observed by the watchdogs from Jerusalem, what right do you have to require non-Jews to conform to Jewish customs just to make a favorable impression on your old Jerusalem cronies?”
— Galatians 2:11-14 The Message

I always felt icky after those conversations I talked about on Day 21: Reputation.  Whenever I would engage in agreements to conform to whatever friend group I was around, assuring them of my conformity to their pre-set parenting methods or behavior, it felt dishonest.  I was seeking their approval.  I would agree and nod my head.  I would throw ideas out that I knew they would like.  It felt like an over exaggeration of the "good job" I was doing as a parent.  I would leave those conversations with a yucky feeling.  I had just affirmed the choices we had made as "right" even though they were decisions made from privilege.  I could feed my kids healthy food when I could afford it.  Others cannot.  I could stay home with my children and home school because I had a husband with a full-time job.  Others don't have that luxury.

I would leave my conversations affirming our privileged decisions that defined "good parenting" to us, and I would go downtown to minister to single moms who couldn't cut McDonalds out of their lives or home school their children.

It felt like I was setting a standard for "good parenting" that could never be achieved by the majority of moms.  And I felt icky.

I didn't fess up to the times I had yelled at my kids trying to get to the gatherings of moms either.  I didn't fess up to the times we ate McDonalds or Burger King with our church group or as a family.  

It felt dishonest.  And I felt icky.

I don't know if Peter felt this ickiness when he conformed to the conservative Jewish men from Jereuselum.  Maybe He did.  Peter wanted to fit in with the Jewish click, and he was pulling back from the gentile Christians that he was discipling.

Paul confronted him for his actions.  Paul told him that he was not living in the freedom that Christ had brought us.

If something is true, worthy of defending, it will be just as true for the mom stuck in poverty as it is for the middle-class mom.

Conforming to friend groups just to get their approval compromises your honesty and vulnerability that allows you to connect with others.  If the parenting or behavior rule isn't true for the single mom struggling in poverty, then it is a cultural decision, not a spiritual one.  It isn't something we define our Christianity by.  We shouldn't hold others to standards set by our middle-class culture.

When we create or conform to these standards, we create cliques among believers.  We create an "us" and a "them."

Let go of this charade and live in the freedom Christ died to give us.


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