“And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
The people of God have a long history of speaking truth to power: starting in Genesis through the prophets to Jesus, the disciples, Paul, and many more on down through church history. However, starting in the 17th and 18th centuries, our ancestors gave the government much of our mandate from the Lord such as care for the poor, the orphans, and widows, and medical care for the needy. Now we’re somehow surprised when governments want even more power and control and we must fight battles over issues like abortion which we can no longer in good conscience cede.
The Lord assigned these roles to us. They are the very innovations and radical ideas that spurred and supported the rapid growth of the church in the early centuries of its history. As the church, we must take back and redeem our original role—the one Jesus modeled.
How do we do this? In this scripture, Paul speaks truth to power in love. That’s a dangerous thing to do. It involves words and actions and sometimes “chains” (changing how we spend our “free” time, replacing things we want to do with the hard tasks the gospels call for, etc.) and maybe rejection by neighbors and friends—being thought to have “lost our minds.”
We must speak the truth to power, by our testimony and the way we live: modeling what we believe. The early church was out in the community meeting real needs—physical, emotional, and spiritual.
It is a dangerous, time-consuming, hard business. Jesus called us to be His disciples, not to have an easy life. Paul was in chains, but he still spoke the truth to power. There are no guarantees, but it is the mission Jesus gave us.
- How do you feel about Jesus’ call to live life in this risky way?
- How could it play out in Calhoun, GA?
- What can you say (or alter or sacrifice) in your everyday life to make the change?
- Are you willing to pay the price?
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?