Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.’ At the same time he was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently and talked with him. When two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, but because Felix wanted to grant a favour to the Jews, he left Paul in prison.
Acts 24:24-27 (NIV)
Read: Acts 24
Consider: As Felix’s wife was Jewish, he probably had conversations with her about faith and this man Jesus Christ, who some believed was the promised Messiah. We are told in Acts 24:22 that Felix was well-acquainted with ‘the Way’ (the name initially given to followers of Jesus), although we are not told how he acquired this knowledge.
Although Felix was open to discussions with Paul about faith in Jesus, this may have only been out of curiosity about something new. Felix was prepared to listen until it became serious and personal. We are told in Acts 24 that he became afraid when Paul spoke about ‘… righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come …’ Here was the crunch in the gospel message. It was not about a general faith that people could opt into when it suited them, or take part in once a year when they went to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices. Here was a message that put the individual on the spot, wanting to know where they stood personally before God.
You might think that Felix’s reaction to this new message was normal, or at least expected. However, knowing about ‘the Way’ didn’t make any difference to Felix, as he didn’t allow the message to change him (we can detect this from verse 26 where we are told that he hoped Paul would offer him a bribe to free him). Worse still was Felix’s belief that he could put off deciding about Christ until it suited him. In Acts 24:25 we are told that he sent Paul away, saying: ‘When I find it convenient, I will send for you.’ While we know that Felix spoke with Paul many times over the following two years, we have no knowledge of whether or not Felix ever decided to follow Christ. However, we do know that he didn’t have a change of heart during his time as Governor of Caesarea.
There are many decisions in life that we are tempted to put off to a more convenient time. As some of these decisions are not of eternal significance, it probably doesn’t matter if we delay. There are other decisions that are of eternal importance and one of these is where we stand with regard to faith in Christ. Unfortunately by putting off our decision we don’t know when, if ever, it will be convenient, or when we will just run out of time.
Pray: Father, help us to speak to others about the importance of the gospel and also to convey to them the dangers of putting off a decision to follow Christ. We pray that your Holy Spirit will be active in these people’s lives, bringing them to a point of decision. Amen