Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Stop Running!

After Paul had his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, he went from being one of Christ’s chief persecutors to one of His primary preachers. Over his lifetime, Paul would be responsible, directly or indirectly, twenty churches throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. Finally, the authorities arrest him in Jerusalem and he is sent to Caesarea for trial. Governor Antonius Felix hears his case. Felix was a former slave who was promoted by Claudius Caesar to the office of governor. The Roman historian Tacitus described Felix as “cruel, licentious, and base.”  

Paul’s court case is described by Luke in the Book of Acts chapter 24. We read that Felix and his wife Drusilla listened to Paul as he told them about faith in Christ Jesus. In verse 25 it says, “As he [Paul] reasoned with them about righteousness and self-control and the coming day of judgment, Felix became frightened. ‘Go away for now,’ he replied. ‘When it is more convenient, I’ll call for you again’” (Acts 24:25). Luke tells us Felix even hoped that Paul would bribe him, so that he could let him go and not have to listen to him anymore. Like Herod Antipas and John the Baptist, however, Felix could not help himself. Paul’s words were too powerful to ignore, so he sent for Paul often and talked with him. The Bible tells us Felix kept Paul in incarcerated for two years until he was replaced as governor.

What was it that frightened Felix so much? Perhaps it was the truth about what Paul was teaching and what it clearly said about his eternal future. Nonetheless, instead of confronting the truth and repenting, Felix ran away.

We sometimes do the same. Like Felix, on occasion, we try to put distance between us and what God teaches in the Bible. Whenever we come across something we don’t like or disagree with, we don’t confront the truth, we “run away.” We try to explain it away, rationalize our position, or justify our opinion.

We never really succeed though, do we? It gnaws at us. We are constantly thinking about it, coming up with new ways to excuse our behavior. Why can’t we just move on? For the same reason Herod Antipas and Antonius Felix could not. The Word of God is too powerful to ignore. It keeps drawing us back to face our self-righteousness, disobedience, and lack of self-control. We are frightened about our eternity. We try to shake it off. We tell everyone who will listen, “It doesn’t matter,” but it does. Deep in our spirit – it does.

All Herod Antipas had to do. All Governor Felix had to do. All you and I have to do, is repent (which means turning from our sin and following Christ) and ask God for forgiveness. He is ready, willing, and able to offer His grace. Psalm 86 reminds us, “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help” (Psalm 86:5).

If you are running today, just stop. It is impossible to outrun the truth. Instead, just seek God’s mercy, and receive His forgiveness and grace. It is far less exhausting.  


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