As we have studied Matthew 10 at our church over the past couple of weeks, we have taken note of some of the variety of difficulties that Jesus promised would face the fledgling church. He promised hardships and persecutions along with Godly provision and reward for those who would remain steadfast. Jesus warned of rejection, but he only began to spell out what Christians might face.
Consider what Christians face in the U.S. today. Seldom do we face violence. We are not subject to imprisonment for our beliefs, at least not yet. Telling people about Jesus is certainly not the capital crime that it is in other countries.
But, there is a strategy that those who oppose Christianity employ that is powerful, dangerous, and not at all new. At this point, Christians face ridicule from a watching world. Media, Hollywood, and other sources like to paint the faithful as simply dumb, or even worse, crazy.
The apostle Paul faced such opposition in his ministry. Paul was put on trial before a set of rulers in the city of Caesarea. There Paul presented a defense for what he preached and why he preached. But, as Paul described his faith in the resurrection of Jesus, one ruler could no longer hold his tongue.
Acts 26:24And 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.”
Festus simply could not let Paul go on without calling him nuts. Festus understood, of course, that Paul was a very bright man. Paul was widely respected as a learned man. So, Festus took a shot at Paul’s credibility by simply calling him mad.
Today, Christians face this charge as much as any. Now, the world might not call us nuts, though some refer to people of faith as the weak-minded. But, the world also loves to paint Bible-believing Christians as closed-minded, backward, or on the wrong side of history. The world likes to depict Christians as unhinged as they dismiss our views from the public square. Newspapers put Christian concern for religious liberty in scare quotes, showing a watching world that no person in their right mind would agree with us.
What should we do? What did Paul do?
Acts 26:25-26 – 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 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.
Paul says he is not nuts. He points to evidence of his claims. And he just keeps telling the truth. He does not try to find any position that would earn him popularity. He does not compromise God’s truth for the sake of being accepted. He just keeps telling the truth and pleading with others to trust in Christ.
And, Christians, this is what we must do too. We need to stop worrying who thinks we are nuts. If we are faithful, we will not be the most popular group in town. But that does not matter. Nor does it matter if people think our faith in the supernatural, in the resurrection of Jesus, in the exclusivity of salvation in Christ, or anything else is crazy. We can live with them thinking we are backward if, by the grace of God, we may please our Lord and continue to tell the truth to the world.