In The Book of Acts, chapter 26, the Apostle Paul describes his early life, subsequent conversion to Christianity, and the purpose it gave his life. He spoke of his vision on the road to Damascus, his ministry of proclaiming deliverance from evil forces, the need for repentance, and his belief in a resurrected Jesus.
The significant feature of this chapter is the reaction of a Roman official, who engages in a familiar criticism. Festus blurts out in the middle of Paul’s speech, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.”
We’ve heard this before. Jesus’ family thought he was “out of his mind” (Mark 3:21), and his critics accused him of being demon-possessed (John 8:48), a condition beyond losing all grasp of reality, an irresistible influence for evil, a category of people for whom no serious consideration should be given.
We might forgive Festus for his outburst, being unfamiliar with the things Paul spoke of, ignorant of the traditions of the prophets. However, the criticism of being crazy can take a more sinister twist. It is used by critics who feel threatened by but cannot disprove Paul’s view of reality.
They think Paul and other Christians need a reality check. I have claimed elsewhere (TLC blog) that this is a lazy man’s tactic, an attempt to discredit without argument, a desire to force a view of reality on the rest of us without any discussion, a modern day enforcement of political correctness: “Long live Big Brother!”
If you haven’t experienced this for yourself, I have some advice for you: get religion. I mean get a true conversion experience. Take your faith seriously. Go to church every week. Stop partying, carousing, and drinking.
Tell your friends you don’t do those things anymore. At the very least they will see you as a fanatic or freak (1 Peter 4:3-4); at worst they will think you need a reality check . . . or maybe even therapy. Don’t worry! You’re in good company.
- Bob -