Felix, crooked governor of Judea, asked the visiting King Herod Agrippa II to hear Paul’s defense regarding the charges the Sanhedrin had brought against him (Acts 25:24-27). That defense consumes nearly the entire 26th chapter of Acts; it includes Paul’s account of his own conversion and his commission to proclaim the gospel of the resurrected Christ.
Upon hearing these things, Governor Felix rudely interrupted Paul, loudly exclaiming, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” (26:24). Both expressions (“beside yourself” and “mad”) come from the same root, “mainomia,” which gives us our words “mania” and “maniac.” In essence Felix said, “Paul, you’re a maniac! Much learning has driven you crazy!”
Paul’s response to the governor used the same term: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (16:25). Far from being a raving kook, Paul’s words were true, sound, and sensible.
We’re not surprised at the governor’s insult. Some of Jesus’ own enemies said the same of Him: “He has a demon and is mad! Why do you listen to Him? (John 10:20). They couldn’t win by arguing against His teaching, so what else could they do but slander Him personally?
Why should our world view us any more favorably than it viewed Jesus or our ancient brethren? They were not intimidated by insults, nor should we be.
Unfortunately, there is some real craziness going on in the name of religion, and we wisely distance ourselves from that. But if the world thinks we’re crazy, it just might be because we’re doing something right!