Text: Acts 24:1-23
To not be afraid of seeking the truth
To be wary of flattery
ANTONIUS FELIX WAS part of a family that had great, if indirect, power in the Roman political structure. His brother was a favored advisor and representative of Caesar, and Felix owed his position to his brother’s influence. As the procurator (governor) in Palestine, Felix used his position both to enrich himself and to keep rival political factions off-balanced enough as to make himself indispensable to his superiors.
One of the challenges that the great and powerful face is what happens before Felix as this “inquiry” begins: both the Temple group and Paul—to a lesser degree—flatter Felix as judge of the land. In truth, Felix has used his authority to keep the land stirred up, allowing low-level fighting and criminality around Judea to fester as a useful tool to hold onto power. Yet he is lauded as a judge and administrator of skill, “since through you we enjoy much peace…”
This constant problem for the renowned and powerful is that there is no incentive for regular folks to tell them the truth. There are whispers—always whispers—of problems, but whispering and backroom gossiping is fuel for paranoia and mutual infighting. The famous are haunted because they simply never know who their friends are, or if they have friends at all, but only sycophants who wish to bask in reflected glow, usurpers who will abandon them when the opportunity arises. From such circumstances great evil often arises.
We who have been called to walk simply in the light of Christ need to be on our guard against flattery, and learn to prefer the simple, bracing and refreshing truth that comes from good and trustworthy friends.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks