Moving Past Previous Convictions

May 21, 2023
Moving Past Previous Convictions

Scripture Reading: Galatians 2: 11 - 21 (NIV)

11When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For 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. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

17“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

19“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”


Message:  “Moving Past Previous Convictions”

Reactions to Differences

Why do I feel so threatened by people that think differently?  

Or at the very least uncomfortable with someone expressing an opposing opinion than mine?

In justifying my point of view, I often point out what might go wrong

Are my fears justified? Or is it just a way to make my inner doubts go away?

Today’s message is about how I react to different opinions than mine


The Big debate between Peter and Paul

Peter and Paul had a huge difference of opinion in the early church

Peter felt that all new believers should be circumcised (after Jesus’s ascension he mainly worked among the Jewish community)

Paul on the other hand went around in the Roman Empire - he felt that the prerequisite to be circumcised to be part of the church was wrong

So - here in Galatians 2 - Paul is writing about the debate with Peter (Cephas)

At times it was a harsh debate - “I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” 

Some call it the first synod in the church 

They came to a conclusion:  Circumcision will not be a prerequisite to belong to the church

Paul’s vision prevailed - they saw the bigger picture (one could argue that Christianity would have been limited to Jewish communities if it weren’t for this decision)

One could argue that Paul was the victor 

But I thing the real hero is Peter, more than Paul, because he was willing to accept the outcome even though he was on the other side of the argument


Rethinking Composure

As Christians we need to be smarter about how we respond to the things we disagree with

We just came through a few conversations on Same-Sex Marriages - I saw the discomfort

We are set for some even more intense debates:  AI, Abortions, MAID, Genetics, Climate Change

We cannot just put our heads in the sand and pretend these conversations does not exist


Purpose: For the Community

I have a theory that we struggle with conversations in society because our focus is inward - we only speak about the issues that concerns us

And if something is uncomfortable to discuss, we just simply avoid it under the premise that it is a conversation that does not belong in the church

That is why so many view the church is irrelevant today

We need to be in community 

We are here to be building a better community 

We need to position ourselves to be asking the right questions - questions that contribute to transforming thinking and not just criticizing 

Can we really say that we have a good understanding the community? 

We need to be thinking with the community about difficult questions instead of being perceived as on the side criticizing (like a good political party in opposition) 

Our opinion needs to be trusted - when last has the community come to us for advice?

Will Durham miss us if we weren’t here anymore?


Creating Spaces for Conversation

Our focus should be on creating better spaces for conversation 

We need to get down from our positions of moral highground 

Because that takes us away from the conversation

Tim Keller:  believers need to wrestle with the quesions skeptics ask 

We need an interaction between doubt and faith when we consider the issues of the day

Skeptics and believers need each other way more than they care to admit


Moving past previous convictions

I must admit - I wondered how this message would be received (disclaimer)

Moving Past Previous Convictions

The question today is:  Are you willing to do that?

Are you willing to enter into conversations in the community with an open mind?

Are you willing to be made uncomfortable?

Our faith might just depend on us moving past previous convictions.



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