Hypocrisy in the Church: Confrontation in Antioch

"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.  Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.  The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray." Galatians 2:11-14, NIV

During the especially volatile racial atmosphere in the southern United States of the 1950s-1960s, a certain man conducted a very bold experiment.  John Howard Griffin, a white male, had his skin and appearance medically altered to appear black.  Then he presented himself as a black man in his social circle and throughout the south to experience what it was like to live as a black man in a racist society.  

Griffin's experiment of temporarily living in someone else's skin garnered him an award and some measure of success as a writer sharing his experiences.  He dared to confront the external discrimination that characterized those times, interrogating his own previously unrealized internal prejudices and hypocrisy along the way.
He grew to understand and empathize better with the bitter experience that blacks endured as second-class citizens living under the pall of Jim Crow racism, bigotry and prejudice based on one's physical appearance and accident of birth.

I share this story because as followers of Jesus we cannot afford to neglect the opportunity to confront our own biases, prejudices, hatred and fear inherited from worldly traditions.  It is easy to play the hypocrite and pretend that we are better than others (self-righteousness) while not addressing the inconsistency of judging others based on societal perceptions.  To be in Christ means to fully trust in his righteousness through faith alone and renounce the selfishness and earthiness that is our sinful inheritance.  The ground is all level at the cross!  Therefore we, as recipients of God's grace, must learn to exercise spiritual and cultural humility and learn to see all of our fellow beings through the loving, unprejudiced eyes of Jesus.

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