We teach our children so many lessons that we fail to apply to our adult lives. One of the most important is this: Be true to who you are no matter where you are or who you’re with. In today’s text, we find Cephas (Peter) letting church politics dictate his behavior. When he was in a setting with only Gentiles, he would break the rules of Jewish customs. When others arrived, he would refrain, making it seem like he was condemning the Gentiles’ behavior. We might call this being “two-faced,” but we also know that remaining true to our identity in Christ no matter the circumstance is more difficult than we like to admit.
We can find ourselves in situations where acting as though our faith isn’t our first priority seems easier, helps us fit in better, and causes less of a stir. We’re more adept at identifying Cephas’s behavior in those around us than we are at admitting how we often imitate his behavior to conform to others’ expectations of us. Though it may present itself differently, peer pressure is alive and well at age 55, just as it is at 15. We need to ground ourselves in our Christian identity and constantly remember that the God we serve is so much bigger than the world’s expectations of us.
So instead of judging Cephas, let’s offer him grace. Let’s empathize with him and recall the times when we have been chameleons too, changing our spots to fit in.
Identify a time when you changed or misrepresented a part of yourself to fit in better with the people around you. What did this gain you? What did it cost you?
Always present God, give us courage when we feel pressure to compromise our identity for the sake of acceptance. Remind us that our worth is found in you through all seasons and circumstances. Amen.