Ever-present God, today I rejoice in the certainty of Your presence and the promises of Your Word.
Read Acts 24:1-27
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“When we witness we need to tell our story of how we accepted God’s story” (Max Anders).
Self-defense is not a cop-out. As I look on some of my Christian friends’ Facebook profiles I see different styles of being open with our faith in an environment which in some ways is growing more hostile to Christian belief.
The defense of Paul before Felix is an example of how to be frank without being unnecessarily confrontational. It is a summary, of course, but there are some interesting omissions from the account we have. Not once does Paul mention Jesus by name. Instead, he stresses the continuity of his faith with the God of his ancestors and those of his accusers. He does say that he is a follower of the Way (14), an early term describing the Christian movement (at this point, “church” sounds too established, though the root meaning of “ecclesia” is “gathering,” not a building). The Way is an interesting and, for us, fruitful approach to defining what it means to be a Christian. Jesus himself claimed to be “the way” (John 14:6) and being a Christian is indeed a way of living. Most of all, however, it is a way of life that can transcend death, and that is at the heart of what Paul proclaims.
Away from the courtroom setting, Paul speaks to Felix and his wife Drusilla (24,25; she was the youngest daughter of Herod Agrippa) and the reaction is much more animated. In public, a dry, well-informed dismissal is all Felix gives (22,23). Here, as Paul speaks about justice and the judgment of God, Felix takes fright, but what seems like a conviction of sin does not go any further. It seems that he kept sending for Paul again, not out of interest in his message but in the hope of a bribe—in which he is sorely disappointed.
Self-defense, defensiveness, or openness—which best defines your approach to being a witness to Christ? How might it need to change?
Merciful Father, the story of Your love for me is assuring. I thank You that I embraced Your story. Give me sensitivity and opportunity for sharing it.
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