“At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. ‘You are out of your mind Paul!’ he shouted. ‘Your great learning is driving you insane'” (Acts 26:24)
I am reading through the book of Acts these days. I have not read it in a while. I guess it’s not a book I look forward to like Psalms. But for the time being, that is where I am. I have to say, I do love Paul and his story of conversion. I love reading about the fact that God took hold of him and made him a mighty evangelist. I always think it’s kind of humorous when God takes someone who is determined to go in one direction and turns them around. He likes to take the strong-willed person and channel that strength for his purpose. As I’ve said before, God doesn’t waste anything. He uses it all for His glory.
My thoughts today come from the above scripture. Paul is before Festus sharing his testimony. Now Festus understood who Paul was. He understood that Paul was raised to be a Pharisee. He knew that Paul was very knowledgeable about the Jewish faith. And at the same time, the Jews were the very people trying to have Paul executed. They didn’t like that He preached of Jesus and His resurrection. They didn’t believe that the prophesies about the Messiah had been fulfilled. They would not face the fact that they had murdered the Son of God. But Paul was strong in his resolve. He would not go along with the crowd. He insisted he knew the truth and he was going to preach it wherever he went. In fact, he welcomed the opportunity to stand before kings and judges to share his wisdom. He looked forward to speaking before the powerful. He was filled with boldness.
I think it’s funny that after sharing his story, Festus thought Paul was crazy. He thought he had lost his mind. He thought he was going insane because he had spent too much time learning the scriptures. I guess in a way he was right. Paul was out of his mind because he had replaced it with the mind of Christ. He had stepped out of the box built for him to live in and followed Christ. He had it easy before following the Lord. He was a Pharisee. He was powerful. He was considered a holy man among his people. But when Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, everything changed. His life would never be the same again. No longer would he follow in the steps he had purposed for himself. He chose to walk the path Christ had set before him regardless of the cost.
We are the same way. When we give up life, as we know it, to follow the calling of Jesus, we are accused of being insane. We choose to serve instead of elevate ourselves. That’s crazy by the worldly standard. The choice to be less so that someone else can be more is not how the “real world” operates. They teach you to step on or over anyone you can to get ahead. They teach you to be selfish and build a life that others will be jealous of. But when Christ takes over, our mindsets change. We are consumed with honoring Him. We have this inward pull to help others. We have the desire, deep within ourselves to bless others and not curse them. We have the mind of Christ.
I love the story of Paul and his ability to take each and every circumstance he was in and honor God. His mindset had changed and He understood the sovereignty of God. He knew that God could and would work even while he was in prison. He never looked at his life and wished for something else. He looked at his life as an opportunity to serve the Lord. He could have walked away at any time. But he knew God’s calling on his life and he lived that life with boldness. He gave up the mind he was trained to have, in order to follow Christ and His will for Paul’s life. And he spent his entire, trial filled life expressing the need for each person to accept Christ. Yes, one might say that Paul had lost his mind. He traded prestige for prison. He exchanged praise for persecution. He gave up a life of honor among his own people for a life of insults and accusations among the Gentiles. He had lost his mind. But in the process he found Christ’s. And to some that is considered insane!