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The Folly of Felix

Somebody observed that many people aim to do right, but they are notoriously poor shots. That sentence sermon reminds me of a famous sermon summary found in Acts 24:24-25. In that passage the great apostle Paul, under arrest and in custody at the governor's compound in ancient Caesarea, stares down the most powerful couple in Judea — Governor Felix and his wife Drusilla. Space won't allow a detailed description of the moral and spiritual character of this powerful political couple. But do a little digging on your own and you will quickly learn they were low-class people who occupied a high-class place. The governor and his wife were open adulterers, and had proven they were willing to do and say whatever it took to have what they wanted and get to the top. Like some in high government posts today, they proved to be more varnish than wood in moral and spiritual character. In the verses mentioned above the inspired writer Luke gives a brief summary of the sermon Paul preached to the Governor and First Lady: "And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee." Wow! At first glance it seems the guy aims to do right. After all, his knees knocked as Paul preached about right-doing, self-control, and about an inescapable judgement that looms up ahead for even powerful politicians! When was the last time you heard a preacher and a sermon that left you "trembling" and afraid? Many modern sinners don't like that kind of preaching and many modern preachers oblige, preaching "I'm okay, you're okay, and everybody is okay," no matter how "not okay" listeners might be. But not Brother Paul. His preaching scared the liver out of this powerful procurator. Is it too much to wish a little more "fear of the Lord" might be injected into modern preaching and into our hearts, and that we might see a little "trembling" before God and His word every now and then?

But I digress. At first glance, we have hope for Felix because he seemingly aims to do right. But he proved to be a very poor shot indeed. Whatever fire of conviction he may have felt in his conscience during the sermon is quickly doused with a bucket-full of procrastination. Like many modern listeners to the Gospel message, he decides to wait until it is more "convenient" to repent and be baptized into Christ and begin to live life as a Christian. Disregarding every warning God ever gave about the urgency of the soul's salvation, Felix commits the ultimate folly — he decided to put God on hold and act as if it is he who is not only governor of Palestine but also governor of life and death itself. Scripture still proclaims a stark message about the most acute issue any of us face — "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2b). The devil uses many "wiles" to keep us from obeying God's will (Ephesians 6:10). In the end, the most dangerous and deadly and successful one is probably "wait awhile." Life's ultimate folly is thinking you can get right with God. . . .tomorrow. Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ