Acts 25: 1-12
The new guy in town didn’t know Paul. He didn’t know the story. All he heard were vicious lies and deceit about who Paul was and what he had done. For days on end, he spent time with the religious leaders as they tried so hard to persuade them to see things their way. They were doing their best to bias his opinion of Paul before he ever laid eyes on the man. Like snakes in the grass, they decided to try and win favor and cast Paul as this evil man.
Sometimes people will do that. They will tell all manner of lies and half-truths and opinions about you. They try to get someone on their side. They set you at opposition with someone before you ever meet them. Instead of coming in with a fresh start and a clean slate, sometimes the hateful words of others can cause you to be judged without cause.
When Festus heard of Paul, he heard lots of bad and terrible things. He probably expected some degenerate and crazy person. Instead, he was met by a quiet, respectful, and logical person. He was met by a man who didn’t match the descriptions at all.
It’s hard to deal with the lies of other people. When you know someone is sharing and telling lies or painting you in an ugly light. It is in those moments that you have the greatest challenge to overcome. You’ve got to get past the preconceived ideas. You’ve got to work uphill to be something other than you’ve been painted as by others.
Paul did it and we can too. Our culture has painted Jesus, the church and those who love it as fools. Antiquated, uneducated, and heartless. That’s what people see of us when they first meet us and we as believers have to be careful about how we present ourselves. It’s why the New Testament encourages us to be careful about how we live among those who are outside the church.
That gives us the next question about faith; are you living intentionally and emphatically towards those around you or does the way you represent the church and Jesus even come on the radar?