Today I finished reading through Acts, and I wanted to share with you a passage from a couple of days back – it’s in chapter 26, where Paul is on trial before Governor Porcius Festus and King Agrippa. As Paul testifies what he believes, he is accused of insanity by Festus, to which Paul’s responds:
25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things,and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.
I was just captivated by this line ‘it was not done in a corner.’ Throughout this passage, Paul is completely unashamed of his faith. He is aware of what is at stake in this trial and how he is perceived because of what he is saying – but these two facts are irrelevant to the truth he has come to know, and so he continues to profess his faith with courage.
I was thinking about the concept of the gospel events not happening in a corner, that Paul is able to assume the King’s familiarity. I have had a couple of days on which to reflect on a seeming contradiction between how transparent and open Christianity is in terms of its basis in historical events, vs. the incredulity it evokes (as it does in Festus) because, on its account, the salvation of all people centres on the life of a Jewish Palestinian man of no title.
Christianity, in so many ways, is right under our noses. Every time we write the date, we are connected to it. We mark time by Jesus’ life. Nearly every single person on the planet has access to some or all of the Bible (estimated 98%), it has been translated fully into about 554 languages, with partial translations in another 2,000 languages (for context, Harry Potter has been translated into about 68 languages, the Quran into about 114), and it is the bestselling book of all time. The most widely-read words in history tell us of Jesus.
Of course, notoriety isn’t equivalent to legitimacy. However, it does give pause for thought. I’ve heard people say that they would believe if God made himself known to the world. I think he did and still does. Christianity isn’t hidden in a corner, it’s available to be scrutinised.
The photo above is one I took whilst I was cooking dinner in the kitchen last week. I hope you, too, get moments of being absolutely awestruck by nature and by the experience of getting to live under skies of beautiful colours. When I look at creation as I was doing last week in the kitchen, it always evokes wonder, but it also always prompts my questioning the meaning of all that life is (ahh the philosophy student in me*). In nature I see a transiency, the withering of plants and the changing seasons, but also a constancy, the indifference of all that will stay when I am gone. This is particularly acute when I gaze at the stars with the awareness that when the light of the stars as they are now has reached Earth, I won’t be here to view them.
But when I gaze at the stars, or at creation, I then hear the cry ‘when you see me, see the one who made me’, and I see God and thank him for the life of that Jewish Palestinian man of no title. I feel the truth of what Paul says, that ‘it was not done in a corner‘. Because for me, this truth is written across the sky.
I wonder what you think of when you gaze at the stars?
*also seen in Ecclesiastes being my favourite book of the bible