Have you ever wanted to be part of a group but found yourself excluded? Whether it be a school, church, club, team, a political party or affiliation most of us recognize the existence within any organization of an inner ring. Many people spend their whole lives seeking acceptance and entrance into these cliques or groups. No one wants to be left out.
Galatians 2:11-13--But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. For he used to eat with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
Let’s look deeper into what caused Peter and Barnabas to act in a manner they knew was wrong. Jews, affiliated with Jesus’ brother James, came to Antioch from Jerusalem. When these men came from Jerusalem they probably voiced concerns to Peter that by eating with Gentiles, he was setting up the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and elsewhere, for persecution from the circumcision party—a nationalistic group deeply committed to Jewish laws. Peter was afraid enough of this group to stop eating with the Gentiles. His Jewish team joined in his hypocrisy.
Peter wanted approval from James and the men who came from Jerusalem. Whether he desired to be part of their team, we don’t know. What we do understand is that he hurt the Gentile believers by pulling away from them. Peter forgot that when he accepted Jesus as his Lord he became part of the only team that would ever matter—the Outsiders.
Would you agree the need for acceptance courses through our veins? We want to be part of a group or at least gain their approval for a number of reasons: power, status, security, safety, recognition, belonging, and/or privilege. The need to join an inner ring can be so compelling that a person will violate his or her own conscience and do the wrong thing. Consider what a person will do or not do to join a sorority. Can you think of a time in your life when peer pressure or the dictates of a club led you to engage in behavior you knew was wrong? It is often teens desperately seeking acceptance ignored by the popular kids at school, who join gangs of misfits to engage in immoral behavior. The need to be included is more powerful than the ability to stand alone and risk rejection.
Outsiders are no longer of this world. Outsiders never put an organization or group above loyalty to Jesus Christ because they know that people will surely let them down. Outsiders do not need or look for membership in an inner ring to bolster their self-esteem. They are already family with the Inner Ring that truly matters—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! Outsiders gain their confidence from being IN Christ. Outsiders build their faith and function confidently because they know God loves them unconditionally and secured for them an eternal place in His presence.
If you are one of those influenced by the pack, or who feels the constant need to be a member of the “in crowd,” ask yourself, “Who am I truly serving?” Better to be an outsider obedient and centered on God than an insider pursuing what cannot last and ultimately will not matter. I am not saying teams are unimportant, but rather that we must beware of seeking approval and inclusion that is not God honoring.
I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside.—C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory
©2010 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)