Tertullus begins his accusation against Paul to the governor in Acts 24, and verse 5 summarizes his case, “… For we have found this man a plague”.
I want to be as a plague to my society, spreading the “disease” of the good news of Christ. I want the gospel to spread uncontrollably, striking fear in those whose lifestyles and comfortability feel threatened. Paul has caused such an uproar; he has traveled the known world performing healings and preaching of the incarnation and resurrection of our God and King. He has done so much damage for the Kingdom of God on the earth, that cities and countries rooted in rebellion towards “the Way” believe it can be crushed with the death of this man. Their system, tradition, and religion is threatened, and their reaction is mirrored to that of a plague: fear. The truth is frightful to those who are convicted by it, seeing that that they have been living a lie and exhorting themselves only for something that will fade into nothingness. Verse 25, “Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgement to come, Felix was afraid…”
It is fearfully dreadful, and this fear is the first step to repentance: realizing reality is not what they perceive. The living liars fear because all they have built is upon the foundation of shifting sands, uncontrollable circumstance, fleeing wealth, and mistaken pride. The truth of God shatters us, and yes this initially brings about the most frightful of things: we will die alone, without meaning, because we have lived for ourselves; we have lived for nothing.
But our own wretchedness can not effectively be consumed without a dose of grace, or this fear will reign in our hearts and minds, leading to a life and death in depression. We must act on our fear, seeing that God can triumphantly lead us into peace. Paul emphasizes this necessity in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!”. Our fear is powerful, because we realize we are indeed wretches, which leads us to the realization of our need for deliverance. This is the distinguishing act of Christianity: a humbling surrender to grace.