Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beside Yourself


In about the year AD 58/59, the Apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem for claiming that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was the Messiah promised by God. Paul was subsequently transferred for his own safety and held under house arrest in the Roman port city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean. After 2 years the new governor of Judea, Festus, who lived in Caesarea, was visited by the King Agrippa and his sister Bernice. Festus called for Paul to be brought before him and the King so that they might hear his case and decide what should be done with this Jew turned Christian.

We read an account of that hearing towards the end of the New Testament Book of Acts. Paul is concluding his defense before Agrippa when we get to Acts 26:19 where he sums up 30 years of ministry and his service to the Great Commission in just one sentence.

Acts 26  NKJV
19  "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
20  "but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
21  "For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.
22  "Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come — 
23  "that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."
24 ¶  Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!"
25  But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.
26  "For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.
27  "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe."
28  Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian."
29  And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains."

Both Agrippa and Festus were stirred by the passionate confidence of the Apostle Paul. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and wanted everyone to understand the love and the goodness of God. Festus told Paul to calm down … take it easy … don’t get so worked up … you are beginning to sound a little crazy … you are beside yourself! Keep this up and people are just going to think you’re a lunatic.

Paul responded, “I’m not deranged …”  I’m telling you the truth and it’s reasonable that I tell everyone – King Agrippa knows what I’m talking about. “Do you believe?” … “I know that you believe!”

King Agrippa replied, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

What a sad ending … if it was the end. Paul had been living under house arrest in Caesarea not far from the Governor’s Palace. Agrippa was fully aware of all that had happened in Jerusalem. His father was the one who beheaded James and his grandfather sought to kill Jesus when He was yet a baby in Bethlehem. Agrippa was a Jew but Paul simply refused to let what others thought about him or what they might do to him stop his witness for Christ.

Yes Paul was beside himself but he was not crazy, out of control or mad.

About 3 years earlier Paul was in Macedonia writing his second letter to the Church in Corinth. Paul started the Church in Corinth but others had taken it over and were attempting to discredit Paul and turn the hearts of the congregation to a new leadership with a new way of doing things. Those new Church leaders in Corinth accused Paul of being a bit overbearing, old fogy, out of touch and just too zealous for Christ and the Church.

Paul wrote in:

2 Corinthians 5
13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
14  For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
15  and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Beside ourselves … what an accurate description of a person who has moved off the throne of their own lives and moved over to allow God His greatest room to work. God wants to work in us and on us so that He might work for us and through us. The love of Christ compels us! What compels you?

It is often us letting God work “through us” which seems the most challenging. After all, who wants others to think we are a bunch of religious fanatics?  Who wants to be considered a “fool for Christ sake”?

1 Corinthians 4:10  We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!

People who do not know the love of God which is found only in a relationship with Jesus Christ, cannot understand why we think like we think; why we feel what we feel; why we believe what we believe; or why we do what we do. The part that concerns me is that people might never come to know the love and the will of God if I am unwilling to be a little outgoing, get of my comfort zone, get beside myself and share Jesus.

Let’s not forget those 3 Powerful Points Paul Preached in Acts 26:20:
1.  Repent
2.  Turn to God
3.  Do Works Befitting Repentance

What greater work can we do than to witness to others about God’s love! Go ahead … Get Beside Yourself and tell everyone about Jesus …