But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
2020 has brought virtual communication to an entirely new level, wouldn’t you agree? Part of my job today includes virtual meetings with prescribers via a Zoom type of program. One of my peers reports that it is easier to ask difficult questions via a Jetson’s like call. Why?
I think there is a kind of perceived anonymity when we are communicating via a computer or phone, even when you can see the other person. People write things on Facebook or on a blog that they would never ever say face to face. People on Twitter apparently have no inhibitions. Period. The result is an often coarse kind of language where very little thought is given to the matter of the moment.
Here’s a lesson I learned the hard way: Whenever possible, especially in some kind of confrontation, avoid email. It is simply too easy to read things into an email that may or may not be there. It’s a challenge I occasionally run into when composing this set of daily thoughts. Sometimes my point is misunderstood.
On the other hand, a face to face encounter enables everyone to listen to the way something is said, make eye contact, and interact immediately.
Imagine Paul’s confrontation when Peter was leading others into hypocrisy. Paul didn’t write a letter. He didn’t pull Barnabas aside and complain. Paul went directly to the source. He didn’t avoid the elephant in the room. He didn’t just go along. Paul was a man of conviction and while I am sure he embarrassed Peter and the rest of the Jews, I believe he challenged the hypocrisy without destroying the relationship.
Later, in one of his epistles, Peter referred to Paul’s writings as Scripture:
“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scripture”(2 Peter: 3:15).
The lesson here? Stand firm in the Truth. Be willing to do the hard thing and confront hypocrisy and be willing to do it face to face.