As Paul talked to them about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you,” At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked to him. When two years had pass, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favor to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.(Acts 24:24-27 NIV)
In re-reading Acts, I find myself fascinated by those who were supposed to be leaders but were actually scoundrels, motivated by greed and the power of their position.
Paul was sought by those who preferred the law over grace–to kill him, just because of his faith in the Lord Jesus–a crime against men who wanted to control what everyone believed and did. This desire to control overs has caused problems for millions of people and is yet causing problems for people. We saw it with all the dictators in the land, and we see it again from those who profess to do God’s Will, but have not demonstrated they even know God.
Our modern day Felixes, and Festuses come in the form of justices who sit on the Supreme Court and politicians and others in positions of authority, seeking bribes and favors–turning the Word of God into a joke and encouraging people to live in opposition to God says in favor of what they say.
Paul was left imprisoned for over two years at the whim of a man who thought that eventually Paul would offer him a bribe for his freedom, and when he didn’t–another took his place and to incur favor with the Jews, left him imprisoned. When Paul appealed to be heard by Caesar, it would appear that Festus was incensed by Paul thinking him incapable of rendering a just judgment when no crime had been committed and none proven. Paul was right and Festus was left looking foolish before the Jews.
Today, how many people are being wrongly accused of crimes that no one can prove, but are remanded in custody by egotistical maniacs who abuse their position and power?
Paul’s crime–belief in the Lord Jesus Christ and promoting the Gospel to the Gentiles. Jesus’ crime–declaring to be the Son of God, healing the sick and exposing the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders. The penalty for their crimes was death, but the glory of The Lord put them into a position of righteousness that neither will ever be forgotten–Jesus because He is our Risen Savior and Paul because he refused to take the easy way and withstood the persecution after his conversion.
Are we willing to stand firm in our belief and confession that Jesus is Lord? Are we promoting the Gospel no matter what happens? Are we baffled and confused when the naysayers and doubters attack what we say or write in cyberspace and become discouraged? I would hope that none of these things shall move us from fulfilling the call of God in our lives! Whether we speak the Truth in public places or write it in public forums, we have no need to fear for our God–is victorious in all things and because we belong to Him; there is no Felix or Festus who can ever deter us and what we do, is not to gain the favor of men, but because God grants us favor with men.
We are not needed to give our lives in shedding blood for our bloodshed can save no one, but we can live our lives in such a way that all who see and watch us will know, our lives belong to Jesus and we will not turn back to be controlled by the dictates of mere mortals–no matter what their position is.