What great news that Peter had when he returned to Jerusalem: Gentiles had received the word of God and been added by God to the Church!! But not everyone was happy with the news. Criticism came from the Jewish Christians. They did not like Peter going into the home of uncircumcised people and eating with them. Peter had broken traditions established by religious leader to protect against the violation of dietary regulations. First, the Jewish Christians were not totally wrong in what they did. They spoke directly to Peter about their thoughts. They did not gossip to others in the church and community. But they bravely spoke up when Peter came into their presence. It would have been better to have asked for a private meeting but they didn’t gossip and complain and cause division. So much pain and conflict could be avoided if more believers would be willing and have the courage to meet and discuss apparent disagreements, following the principles of Matthew 5:23-24, 18:15-20 and Galatians 6:1.
How did Peter handle this criticism? What can we learn from Peter in how he responded? Peter carefully and succinctly stated his actions were in response to the word of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit. Peter reported how the Lord prepared him for change with the vision of unclean animals and specific directions to eat of them. The Spirit then directed him to go with the messengers from Cornelius, taking other believers with him as witnesses. He applied the words of Jesus Christ and baptized Cornelius and his household as the Holy Spirit demonstrated His presence by coming upon them. So Peter carefully reasoned with those who questioned his actions in receiving Gentiles into the church. How did the critics respond to Peter’s explanation? They were completely satisfied and “had no further objections.” Discussing the disagreements had led to peace as they all followed the word of God. Do you have a conflict with another Christian or a non-believer? In your home? At work? May God give you grace to take a step today toward following the word of God and restoring peace.