24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul talked 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.” 26 At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. (Acts 24:24-26 NIV)
Earlier in the story (vs. 22), we learn that Felix is “…well acquainted with the Way.” The Way is a word used in Acts alone to describe faith in Christ.
Felix knows something about Paul’s faith and from his wife would understand the Judaism out of which it arose.
The content of Paul’s preaching… “righteousness” occurs frequently in Paul’s writings, especially the book of Romans. “Self-control” occurs only in Paul’s letters, here and one other place in the New Testament. Most of the occurrences are in the pastoral epistles (letters to pastoral leaders Timothy and Titus).
“Judgment to come” only appears here but “judgment” occurs frequently not only in Paul’s letters and ministry but also in the gospels.
Felix is afraid of what Paul says! Afraid of its truth? Afraid to believe it? Afraid of what the Jews will think or do if he believes or accepts Paul’s words? He is afraid but keeps Paul imprisoned for two years.
I had a conversation today with a ministry coach and we talked about fear at one point. I expressed fear of what might come from examining a certain area and seeking to answer some pressing questions. I think that I understand Felix! To be afraid to look too closely at the truth, afraid of its implications. But also afraid to ignore it. Afraid to not look at the issues and questions God stirs in our minds.
The truth is a hard thing. It doesn’t care what I think of it. It is irrelevant whether or not I accept it. But for followers of “the Way” the truth is a person as much as a set of assertions or a representation of reality. Christ would have us not be afraid to face the truth as we face the Truth.
O Lord of Truth – may I not fear the truth. May I not be afraid to look fully and with an open heart and mind at truth. May I remember that Jesus is the Truth, that he is the Way. And may I not only look but accept and live into the truth you lay before me. In the name of the one who is Way and Truth, Jesus, I pray. Amen.