On my morning run, I listened to Bob Goff talking about our love for each other. “How are you loving the people you disagree with the most?” he said. Which got me ready for my next conversation with Paul.
“Can we talk about Peter for a bit?” I said. “You mention him a lot in this letter to the church in Galatia, and it feels like there was a bit of tension between the two of you.”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
“You first mention him as the only apostle you met with on a trip to Jerusalem,” I said. “Then you talk about people who ‘seemed to be influential’ and who ‘seemed to be pillars’ of the church. That feels a little sarcastic to our ears.”
He shook his head. “I’m not sure I was trying to be sarcastic. I was trying to be very precise. Their approval wasn’t what I was looking for. Their agreement with the message I was preaching to the Gentiles was important. So the words I pick emphasize that they were viewed as important but that my calling from God was more important.”
“But do you understand how that confidence feels arrogant?” I asked. I spend a lot of time helping people soften their communication edges.
Paul wasn’t going to cooperate.
“Accurate can sound arrogant to the person who is being challenged,” he said. “But I was fighting for souls against people who were attempting to undermine my authority. The agitators in Galatia were painting me as a person rebelling against the church in Jerusalem. I needed to make a case that my teaching AND the teaching of the church were under the authority of God. And they weren’t to be measured against each other. We were each accountable to God.”
“But you weren’t exactly supportive of Peter when he came to Antioch. ‘I opposed him to his face,’ is what you said.”
I could tell that it was going to take a bit for him to explain. So I went to make a fresh pot of coffee.
If you’ve never watched Bob Goff, this message is a great introduction.