“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty!” – Wendell Phillips, Massachusetts antislavery meeting, 1852
If God so graciously escorts us to freedom, who in their right mind would turn back? Some people prefer the security of slavery to the risks of liberty. Others are led back to slavery by their own fear.
Peter offers a fantastic case study. Peter was a Jew whose food laws strictly limited his relationships outside the Jewish community. But the Spirit had clearly shown him that he was free from the law (Acts 10). Since that revelation, Peter was allowed to eat with the Gentiles – that is, to enjoy fellowship with all believers. He stood firm and told of how God’s Spirit had led him into this place of freedom (Acts 15).
But later a group of officials came. Their presence affected Peter’s freedom.
Before certain men came from James, he [Peter] 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 (Galatians 2:12).
Peter fell back under the law out of fear. Not fear of God, but fear of other men and what they would think. The biblical party known as the Pharisees, keepers of the law, by definition means “separated.” Peter, in fear of these men, separated himself from freedom – from grace.
Author of our Freedom, God of Grace, I pray for Your strength to run through me so I might be brave and totally aware of my freedom. I pray for wisdom so that I can recognize the recurring snares of slavery. Give me courage to stand in Your acceptance and to shake loose the desire I have for others’ approval. Teach me the dance as I learn to keep step with Your Spirit (Gal. 5.25). For when I dance with You – when I let You lead – I am anything but separated. Amen.
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