Acts 25:13-22 (CEB)

Today’s devotion is written by Pastor Emily Sterling-Strongman.

Today’s photo is from the ruins of Herod’s palace in Caesarea where Paul was in prison for over 2 years. The outer squares mark the perimeter of a cell like the one where Paul would have been kept.

How do you solve a problem like Maria? If you don’t know this song or if it has been a while since you have heard it, check it out here.

In The Sound of Music, the nuns in the abbey are at a loss when it comes to Maria. They love her laugh and her spirit. They want to encourage her and her faithfulness. But, truth be told, Maria just does not fit in as a nun. She upsets the religious order. She does not follow the rules. She does not fit with the status quo. She is seen as a problem.

A similar question could be asked in regards to Paul – how do you solve a problem like Paul?

Today’s scripture passage features a conversation among Festus, the Roman Governor of Judea (a Gentile) and Herod Agrippa, King of Judea (a Jew). Festus tells Herod Agrippa about Paul and how he has been imprisoned in Caesarea for over two years. Paul frustrates the Jewish leaders
by proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He upsets the Sadducees who do not believe in any sort of resurrection. He claims his past as a Pharisee, but he does not maintain the Pharisee status quo. The Pharisees are confused as to whether or not to support Paul. Paul
follows the Jewish religious practices, but then he also associates with Gentiles. He argues with the Jewish leaders and uses his status as a Roman citizen to protect himself from assassination.

Festus does not know what to do with Paul. He does not find him guilty of breaking Roman law, but he also does not want to upset the Jewish people in Jerusalem by letting Paul go free. Herod Agrippa promises to hear from Paul the next day.

So how do you solve a problem like Paul? What do you do with a person who does not fit with the status quo or follow established community norms?

Have you ever been a Paul following the guidance of the Holy Spirit and doing new things contrary to “the ways things have always been done?” What were you trying to do? How were you received?

Have you ever been like Festus, Herod Agrippa, or any of the other Jewish religious leaders trying to protect a way or life or a tradition? Have you ever been at a loss as to what to do or say?

Have you ever moved to attack someone who did not follow the rules? Have you ever put off a troublesome situation because you did not want to deal with the potential consequences?

How did that work for you?

Please share your ideas, thoughts, comments, and questions. We want to hear them!

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