I’ve heard many nightmares of how seminary can radically transform individuals for the good and bad. Knowledge has a way of puffing up egos, encouraging once humble individuals to question those currently in spiritual leadership positions. Depending upon the ideology taught at certain institutions, the gullible, naive and ungrounded can be swayed to embrace religion over a relationship with God. This is just one example of how religion can drive someone insane.
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.
In the case of Paul from Tarsus, his peers from the synagogue felt betrayed. After a dramatic transformation on the road to Damascus, Paul’s Jewish friends didn’t recognize him anymore. This resentment festered causing the chief priest and religious leaders to arrest Paul on false charges. During his trial in front of newly elected governor Festus and King Agrippa, Paul testifies to his conversion to the Way, rejecting Judaism for a personal relationship with Christ. Halfway through, Festus came to the conclusion that his new found faith was driving Paul insane.
“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable, Acts 26:25.
So who’s right? Are Christians insane for following an invisible God? Are traditional religions crazy to holding on to traditions more than a thousand year old? Or is there a middle ground, where faith and tradition can co-exist? Matthew 10 sums up what Jesus thought about this topic, as religion can create division even within households. Thus, while outsiders may call you names, tease or ridicule you, stand firm in the faith til the end. The next time a friend thinks you’ve lost it, lean on the Holy Spirit to give you the words to make a reasonable defense.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword,” Matthew 10:34.
by Jay Mankus