Scripture reading for July 8th: Acts 26:1-32
God’s servants often get labeled by those they are sent to reach. In Jesus’ ministry, the Jews accused Him of being filled with an evil spirit and a ‘Samaritan’. (John 8:48) At the upper room on the Day of Pentecost, the disciples were accused of being drunk at nine in the morning! (Acts 2:13) Paul was called a “trouble-maker” by the Jews because of his preaching about Jesus as Messiah. (Acts 24:5) Paul was again labeled by governor Festus as he shared his testimony to King Agrippa! “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” (Acts 26:24)
Why did Festus make a statement like that about Paul? Paul had just preached the Gospel to King Agrippa and Festus as he made his defense and gave his testimony. This Gospel is the power of God for salvation and Paul was not ashamed of it! (Romans 1:16) The Gospel brought conviction and demanded a response of faith. When hearts are hardened, the flesh tries to silence the voice of truth or bring accusation against the source of truth.
Also, those who are resisting the Holy Spirit find the message of the Gospel as foolishness and something hard to understand. Paul taught that the message of the cross was foolishness to those who were perishing. (1st Corinthians 1:18) Festus thought that Paul’s great learning was causing him to go crazy. That was the only way he could make sense of his message.
We should not be surprised at the reactions of people when we share the Gospel message with them. Paul took it in stride, telling Festus that what he was saying was both true and reasonable. Paul directly asked King Agrippa if he believed the prophets and encouraged him to believe! Agrippa’s response was, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” “Paul replied, “Short time or long–I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except without chains.” (Acts 26:28-29) The real insanity was not with Paul, but with these Gentile leaders who had opportunity to believe and passed it up! They walked out saying that Paul could have been set free if he would not have appealed to Caesar. But their bondage to sin continued!