Years ago, a church sponsored a separate church nearby to keep one ethnic group from joining the mother church. When an official was asked why this policy, he replied, “That is just the way it is; those other people may visit here, but they can’t be members.” Paul faced similar racial and religious bigotry years ago. In Galatians chapter 2, he wrote, “When Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile Christians, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish Christians followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?” Paul called Peter out for his hypocrisy and denial of what Jesus died to achieve. Christ’s church is not a private club. It is an inclusive body, open to all who profess faith in Christ and are committed to following Him.
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