November 26, 2008

Turning the world upside down

A few years ago the Christian music group Truth sang a song titled "Living Life Upside Down." The words were quite good, dealing with some of the issues in our contemporary culture that seems to no longer know right from wrong. In particular, this song addressed the issues of marital fidelity/divorce and abortion.

Here are the words of that song:

John has a new way of looking at life
He's tired of his job, of his kids, and his wife
He says the secret to his success was in leaving and finding himself
Now he's someone to somebody else
You say we've risen to a new age of truth
You're calling it a spiritually godly pursuit
But I say...

What if we've fallen to the bottom of a well
Thinking we've risen to the top of a mountain
What if we're knocking at the gates of hell
Thinking we're heaven-bound
What if we spent our lives thinking of ourselves
When we should have been thinking of each other
What if we reach up and touch the ground
To find we're living life upside-down

We've got a new plan for saving the earth
While unborn children are denied the right to birth
One baby's blessed, another cursed
Have we made this world better or worse
Now that the life of a tree comes first?
You say we've risen to a new age of light
You're telling me what used to be wrong is now right
But I say...


Good words, but I wonder if part of our upside down world is the fact that we Christians are looking at the world and forgetting that Satan rules this world—not us. Is it so surprising that sin is rampant in the world of unbelievers? Is it a strange thing when people who don't recognize God undervalue the lives of others, and even their own lives?

Romans 1:28–32
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

This morning as I read the Bible I came across and interesting passage in Acts 17. Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica as they journeyed around sharing the gospel message with those who had not yet heard. Paul went into the local synagogue and for three weeks straight, he presented the scriptures to the Jews in the synagogue. He showed them that the long-awaited Messiah was Jesus Christ. Quite a few of the local Jews from the synagogue were persuaded and believed.

Within three weeks Paul had the local religious people in such an uproar that they incited a crowd to violence. The story from scripture continues here:

Acts 17:5-7   But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”

I found the crowd's accusation against Paul and Silas to be quite interesting. "These men who have turned the world upside down...."

I think this passage is showing us that we are not to look at the craziness of a debased world as being upside down—it is, in fact, the way we should expect the world to be. It is instead our job as Christians to turn the world upside down by pointing the way to Jesus Christ.

Evangelism is not always easy, but it is always necessary.


  1. Rich, you and I are thinking along the same lines again. I have spent the morning thinking about the American Christian's "Entitlement Mentality" as I like to call it. I do believe we need to protect our freedoms that God has so graciously afforded us. But so many of our Christian brothers and sisters have become "militant" in protecting their freedoms -- to the point of forgetting that people are acting exactly as they are wired by their sin nature. They will change only when the Holy Spirit invades their life and writes God's laws upon their hearts. Our first focus needs to be the redemption of mankind, not the reformation of our culture. The two are not oppositional -- they go hand in hand. BUT the reformation of our culture will happen AS we are making disciples and walking worthy of our calling.

    It is really hard to maintain a balance in this area -- failure to protect our freedoms is foolish, failure to propogate the gospel is equally foolish. It takes a vertical thinking -- maintaining our focus on God and His will for us as revealed in scripture -- to maintain that balance.

  2. Mary - I think we often forget what Paul said, that "Jesus Christ came to save sinners." The people who are so blatant in their sinning are simply sinners. And Jesus came to save sinners - so the obvious response we need to make is to share the good news that Jesus died to save sinners. It seems simple, but I know I forget it regularly.

    I agree that we do need to try to maintain our freedoms and impact our society toward righteousness. Our form of republican government still gives us many opportunities to direct our nation toward right. We need to avail ourselves of these opportunities.

  3. The passage about Paul and Silas came to my mind some years ago when I read about a missionary to India who was stoned for teaching that Jesus is the only way to heaven. He wasn't killed, and the authorities told him he had to leave the country because he was causing riots. Talk about blaming the victim! But one gets that feeling when reading Acts quite a bit. Or even Pilate's interview with Jesus: "Thine own people have delivered thee unto me. What hast thou done?" Pilate says. Jesus and his followers are regarded as troublemakers just for being who they are, which brings down the wrath of those who hate them.


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