Acts 26:19-32

Today’s devotion is written by Mary Jo Foster.

“At this point in Paul’s defense, Festus declared with a loud voice, ‘You’ve lost your mind, Paul!  Too much learning is driving you mad.’” Acts 26:24

As a young religion major in a large state university, I remember quite clearly my course on Paul, taught by Dr. Jones.  I remember the description of Paul as an arrogant young Pharisee who knew Jewish law, followed it to the letter, and wasn’t afraid to let others know it, as he led many to persecute, torture and kill Christians.

In our scripture today, Paul is standing before King Agrippa and Festus explaining what has happened to him and how his life has taken a dramatic turn.  Jesus has spoken to him, made it clear that He is the Messiah – the one they have been waiting for – and gave him the job of spreading the good news to both the Jews and the Gentiles.  Festus responds by telling him all his learning has driven him mad. 

I believe that God wants us to learn, to explore new ideas, and use our minds.  But what are we to do when the things we learn challenge our deeply held beliefs?

Sometimes I fear I hear Festus’ voice shouting in our world today, “You’ve lost your mind. Too much learning is driving you mad.”  In my life, I believe it is the learning that challenges me to be sure I am listening to the Holy Spirit and not just a voice that keeps me comfortable or feeling good.  Learning about the pain of the LGBTQ community has taught me so much more about who and how God calls me to love.

The Holy Spirit is present to guide all of us in our understanding and practice of the Christian faith.  We are not left alone to figure out how to love as Jesus loves.  The Holy Spirit is our guide.  Through our minds and hearts, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will know what to say and how to act.

That professor I had so long ago said that he received many calls and letters from parents and grandparents afraid he was corrupting their children with new and strange ideas.  It was those new and strange ideas I grappled with that pushed me to grow deeper and stronger in my faith.  It was that professor who taught me so much about God’s love in the way he lived and the way he treated his students.

Ever since then, my fear has never been that I am learning too much, but that I am loving too little.

When was a time you learned something that totally changed your perspective?

Is there anything you have avoid learning about?

What book might be good to read next? 

What are your thoughts, comments, questions?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s