To Kill a Mockingbird is a much-loved story about two young children coming of age in the American South, a region wracked by racial conflict and injustice during much of the 20th century. Fans were thrilled when a follow-up novel by author Harper Lee was released. But in Go Set a Watchman, readers were dismayed to find that a beloved and honorable character in the first book had transformed into an unapologetic racist in his later years. This twist forces the reader to confront the character’s evolving beliefs, as well as their own.
In Acts 10, as the apostle Peter interacted with a Roman, he realized that God’s kingdom isn’t limited to Jews, but to all people who believe in Jesus. He even championed the cause of Gentile believers at several points throughout the book of Acts. But in Galatians 2, Peter had returned to his previous attitude and eventually no longer ate with Gentiles (v.12). Paul was forced to oppose and rebuke Peter for his attitude, telling him “what he did was very wrong” (v.11). The cause of Peter’s backsliding? He came under the influence of a group of Jewish believers known as the Judaizers—those who believed that Gentile Christians were required to follow all of the Old Testament law.
Peter was a mature and experienced disciple, yet he struggled with a fear of criticism and the influence of others. How much more careful should we be about the company we keep? It’s vital that those we draw closest to are people who will help us stay in step with the work of the Holy Spirit, and not in opposition to Him. May we praise God for friends like Paul who have the courage and wisdom to stand up to us when we’re straying from His wisdom and ways. That’s good company!
365-day plan: Luke 22:1-13