Who said being a Christian was easy? At times, many of us think that we have already figured things out, then God taps us – no, shakes us – to say that it is not through our own wisdom or effort that justifies our salvation.
One of the toughest responsibilities of following Jesus is opposing what is wrong. It may sound easy to say that this person is doing something wrong or that person is committing a sin. But what if that person is a close friend or a family member?
Personally, I don’t think I have earned the courage to oppose a friend face to face. I consider myself non-confrontational, in the sense that I try to get things done without conflicts or arguments. Mix that with my tendency to be flexible, and it sometimes results to me yielding to the decision of the other person even if I don’t agree.
The story of Paul about his opposition of Cephas (or Peter) as he narrated in Galatians 2:11-21 reminds me about his courage. It’s hard to imagine someone young in faith – say, a relatively new Christian – reprimanding a more “experienced” follower of Christ for the latter’s wrong actions. Paul opposed Peter not to show who is boss or who is more righteous, but rather to remind Peter about the power of the cross to make us righteous.
Paul reminds us that salvation and righteousness cannot be earned by doing good works or following the law. It has already been given by Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and defeated death for our salvation.
God’s saving grace should not be taken lightly, much less forgotten. Conforming to this world’s so-called values or making compromises in our decisions are ways of saying that the sacrifice of Jesus wasn’t important. “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21)
We may be miles behind the wisdom and courage of Paul, but let us all hold on to God’s power and promise that He will lead us to the straight path each and every time.