A right old conflict. For you enneagram lovers surely that Paul chap was a ‘no. 8’. He seemed to like a good old conflict, and I enjoy reading the public conflict of Galatians 2. I start with that in LifeLine. The conflict was incredibly strong… and I think remains incredibly provocative in our world – maybe even more so today.
It is easy to quickly side with Paul. He was right after all. But hang on a few minutes. Why did Peter pull back from eating with the Gentiles. Not because he jumped out of bed one day and thought ‘I know what, enough of all that Cornelius’ conversion stuff, from now on I will simply be a hypocrite.’ I don’t think so. And to make matters worse, dear Barnabas gets himself into a right old two and eight in the midst of it all, he also pulling back. Generous, ‘I only see the best, I am the original encourager’ Barnabas withdraws.
For Barnabas to draw back you have to suspect there was a convincing case going on. And I am sure there was. A good solid MISSIOLOGICAL case at that. So Peter and Paul – both acting out of missiological, ‘for the sake of the Gospel’ convictions.
That’s what makes the conflict deeply relevant today.
The outcome was that of (presumably) a relational holding together, but two separate ‘fields’ to work in, and we remain the beneficiaries of the ‘freedom’ strand.
Seems maybe we need greater diversity, apostles to the… (filling in the many blanks that are calling from our world) risking following their convictions. Result will be untidiness, otherwise known as ‘mess’ and ‘unsatisfactory’. On the positive side, diversity, multiple incarnations in all kinds of strange and shadowy places. In short the Gospel of freedom.