When Pete Stopped Hanging With Nerds

A Trinitarian  Christ-centered paraphrase of Galatians 2

(2.1) Then, 14 years after that, I took another trip up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. The Holy Spirit told me to go, so I went.  In a private meeting with the elders there, I told them about my message to the non-Jewish ‘outsiders.’  We just wanted to verify that we were all on the same team. (3) Anyway, Titus and his non-surgically-altered wang were right there with me the whole time, and of course nobody had the slightest problem with it. (4) But some religion-nazi spies had snuck into the meeting to scope out the wide-open life we live with Master Jesus, so that they could find some way to make us join them in their tedious religion (Yeah, like THAT’S gonna happen). (5) Anyway, I didn’t give in to them one bit, so that our message would not get tainted with a single drop of their poison. (6) They didn’t influence my message AT ALL. For that matter, NO ONE at that meeting did.

(7) It was clear to the Jerusalem elders that Papa had sent me to the non-Jews, just like he sent Peter to the Jews. (8) The One Triune God has embraced the insiders AND the outsiders.  And it is this God who has sent me and Peter with the One gospel to these two different groups of people. (9) When James and Peter and John recognized the Triune Life at work in me, they welcomed Barnabas and me as valued members of Team Jesus.  They agreed completely that we should go to the non-religious while they go to the religious. (10) They asked only that I continue taking care of the poor, which of course I was going to do anyway.

(11) But when Peter came to Antioch and slipped into hypocrisy, I immediately got all up in his face about it. (12) See, he had been hanging out with the whole gang in Antioch, having a great time with everyone, regardless of whether or not they had undergone ritual wang surgery.  But that stopped when the respectable religious-types dropped in to visit.  In junior high terms, you can say Peter stopped hanging with the nerds, because he was afraid of what the cool kids might think of him. (13) The others – even Barnabas! – followed his lead. (14) When I saw them acting in this reality-contradicting way, I confronted Peter in front of everybody:

“Look, Peter…You’re not a religion-snob anymore. You know you’re no better than anybody else.  You’re just a regular guy now.  So how come, all of a sudden, people have to pass your ‘religion-test’ before they’re good enough to hang out with you?  Who the hell do you think you are?!?”

(15) So that’s how it happened.  I hope my story helps you see where I’m coming from.  Yes, I’m proud to be Jewish.  Being a Jew is a very special thing, (16) but we all know that following our religion is NOT what sets right our relationship with God and with each other.  That happens only as we rely on Master Jesus to put all things right as the gospel changes us from the inside-out.  NO religious act can do that. (17) As we seek to live out the good life Jesus has given to us, it quickly becomes obvious that we haven’t become perfect yet.  Does that mean Jesus is to blame for our brokenness?  Of course not. (18) But when I seek reconciliation for relationships that I myself destroyed, I’m putting myself on public display as the flawed and struggling human being I am.

(19) And I’m totally okay with that.  Pious Paul died so that Real Paul could authentically live life in the fellowship of the Triune God. Think of it this way: Jesus is the One in whom we live and move and have our being, right?  Therefore, in some mysterious way, whatever happens to him happens to ALL of us.  So when Jesus died, I DIED. (20) I’m not living my own life anymore!  It is Jesus’ life, and he’s living it IN me and THROUGH me, and it is a life beyond anything I have ever dared to dream. The Son is faithful to his Papa, always and in every way.  It is through reliance on HIS faithfulness that I now live this life of adventure.  My unsteady faith is upheld by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (21) THAT is the power of grace; it is the only thing that can put things right in us and in the world.  If religion could have accomplished that, then Jesus wouldn’t have had to die.

~ John Stonecypher


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