“So what happened?” I said.
“I noticed that Peter started to excuse himself from the gatherings. And one evening Barnabas said that he wasn’t going to be attending that night. When I asked about it, he said that he was going to a small gathering at the place Peter was staying. I was curious. So after the house gathering of one of the Antioch groups, I went to Peter’s. And I discovered that the men from Jerusalem were there with Peter and Barnabas and a couple of other people from Antioch who were part of our church. They were having their own prayer meeting.”
“What was wrong with that?” I asked.
“It wasn’t the prayer, exactly. I slipped in and joined them. But after the meeting finished, they began talking about conversations that had been happening in Jerusalem. There were concerns that the leaders in Antioch were ignoring our Jewish roots. They said that they had heard that Peter was unaware of the disruptive example he was setting by living like Paul rather than like Jesus. They asked Barnabas whether it was true that he was allowing uncircumcised men to teach within the community.”
“And then you got upset.”
“And then I got upset. These men, these agitators, these legalists were attacking the very thing that Jesus had died for, that I had given up my whole livelihood and life for. Christ set us all free from thinking we could live perfectly enough to make God happy.”
Paul stopped. He leaned forward.
“You know, part of the reason I was so upset is that Peter worried about the stories that would be told back home. And he even influenced Barnabas. All the work Barnabas and I had done together, with the affirmation that we’d received from the leaders in Jerusalem, was about to be bullied to an end.”