Those early Christians had no fear of rocking the boat. They simply spoke the truth…and riots followed. The gospel has a way of causing a commotion—both externally and internally. We have to face some disrupting bad news before getting to the good news.
When Paul appeared before Governor Felix to defend himself against his Jewish accusers, an inward commotion erupted in Felix’s heart (Acts 24). Although at first Felix listened to Paul explain his faith, when Paul began talking about “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come,” Felix became afraid and dismissed him. Apparently, listening to Paul was too convicting.
Wherever the word of God is revealed, accountability to the truth is exposed. Those who reject the truth will go to any means to stifle the commotion. Scripture says Felix hoped Paul would offer him a bribe. I have a feeling more than greed motivated him. Maybe if he could just get Paul to compromise, he himself would be off the hook. If Paul hedged on righteousness, perhaps he would have justification for his own indulgent lifestyle.
Human nature, when confronted with the truth, will either bow to it or try to find ways to circumvent it. Maybe that’s why Christians continue to undergo such microscopic inspection. When we bear witness to the gospel and a commotion takes place in the hearts of those who hear, some will seek to quiet the disturbance by discrediting the messenger. Discredit the messenger; invalidate the message.
This looms as a stark reality for those of us who are in the process of becoming “little Christs.” We will never reach perfection in this life, but we must not let the fear of scrutiny hinder us from causing a commotion. On the other hand, we must never take our accountability before God loosely. Like Paul, we should strive always to have a clear conscience (Acts 24:16).
So let’s step up to the plate and give those who have gone before us something to cheer about. Let’s resist the pull toward being either spineless or graceless in ways that offer nonbelievers an excuse to say no thanks. Go ahead. Present the gospel. Cause a commotion!