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Upside Down

Scripture: Acts 17:5-9

Scripture: Acts 17:5-9; Text: "And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also" (Acts 17:6).

By way of introduction let me lay a foundation of background information. This event took place in a city called Thessalonica. The Apostle Paul wrote two letters to the church in that city and they are part of the New Testament. However, there are some who believe that Luke wrote this book, as well as the third Gospel.

This is a remarkable example of the accuracy of the scriptures. The brethren arrested, were brought before the “rulers (plural) of the city.” An inscription on an ancient marble arch, still standing in Thessalonica (now called Salonika) records that the city was governed by seven politarchs. Thessalonica was a Greek city, governed by its own laws and the politarchs were also Greek, not Roman magistrates. As the crowd brought the men of our text before the rulers, they were charged with turning the world upside down.

What exactly did that expression mean? Well there was in that city the Jewish religion and synagogue worship, into which Paul entered for three consecutive Sabbaths and taught that Jesus was the Christ. The Christ or Messiah was the expectation of the Jews, so Paul preached and set forth that He had already come and was in fact Jesus of Nazareth. The Greek proselytes, who followed the Jewish religion, were numerous in the city and were divided into two classes - (1) the devout (2) the fanatical. There were two forces also - (1) Roman order (2) Greek intelligence. Now when Paul and others began to set forth the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ and to call the allegiance of men's lives to Him, some who did not believe accused them of trying to overthrow the order and power of that day. They did not understand Christianity or they would have known that its purpose is not to stand against civil powers. Christianity is involved in a spiritual kingdom, not a political one. However those Greeks used the political to suppress the spiritual, and it is being done in our nation today.

What Paul, Silas and Jason actually did; was to unsettle and disturb the people by the preaching of Jesus. They shook up the people and I wish more people would get shaken up today. Wouldn't it be wonderful if people were shaken off the stool of indifference, by the preaching of Jesus and were stirred up to get more involved in the service of God? God has never been pleased with apathy and indifference toward His service. He said, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou went cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16). I would also like to see more people get disturbed about their sins. I would like to see more people unsettled about their lives and lack of service. If more people were stirred up by the name of Jesus, they might churn the water to the extent that others would get caught in the whirlpool. Those men churned the waters of society as they turned the world upside down.

The Bible declares that God even turned something upside down. By His judgements, God turned Jerusalem upside down, saying, "And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down" (2 Kings 21:13). This God did in the days of Manesseh, a wicked king who led them into idolatry. God's judgements are also said to turn the earth upside down (Isaiah 24:1). Concerning the way of the wicked, God said, "The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down" (Psalm 146:9). The point is this, if God turns upside down that which is not right; then in imitation of God, we ought also to turn this world upside down.

There are two worlds that need turning upside down. First, there is the world of our individual lives. It is a personal world! This "little world" is a place we have made for ourselves, in which we live and function daily. We have grown comfortable and familiar with our world, even though it may not be as God commands. We get up at a certain time, go to work or school, or some other scheduled activity. We have our own ideas, prejudices and set of values; whether or not they are biblical. Many people have built into their world sporadic giving, church attendance, Bible reading and praying. Some do no visitation, have no study time, and give no witness of the truth. Such a world needs to be turned upside down! We need to change things by improving our lives. There is need to grow out of our bad habits and to become more like Jesus. Peter said, "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). We need to grow, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). God's children should be dedicated and consecrated. We need to be strengthened in the inner man, so that the outer man will change (Ephesians 3:16). There is a need to stop quenching the Spirit of God (1 Thessalonians 5:19), and start following His leadership (John 16:13). We need to stop being almost a Christian (Acts 26:28) and strive to be altogether one. Paul said, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds" (Acts 26:29). If we do not feel such depth of commitment to God, then our world needs turning upside down.

Until our world is turned upside down, we cannot turn upside down the world around us. If Paul, Silas and Jason had been like you, could they have turned the world upside down? Does your life make a difference in the world today?

This brings us to the second world which needs to be turned upside down. This world is the greater or larger of the two. The world to which I now refer, is made up of our city, state and nation; with all other nations as a part of it. The world of our day needs to be turned upside down to set it upright. When an object is upright, it is rightside up. For that reason the Bible has a great deal to say about the upright. David said, "Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee" (Psalm 25:21). David's desire to be upright was really a desire to be like God. "Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way" (Psalm 25:8). God is upright and those things that are contrary to God are upside down. Those that are in harmony with God are upright, as was Job. The Bible says, "There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1). God made man upright (Ecclesiastes 7:29) but the many inventions of sin have turned both himself and the world wrong side up. David desired to live in an upright land saying, "Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness" (Psalm 143:10). Is America a land of uprightness? Is the world right side up or upside down? If it is upside down, then it is wrong side up. Therefore, it must be turned upside down to be right side up. The base is the bottom of an object, but if the base is up, the object is upside down. The base things of this world are on top today. Sin is rising in the nation and ungodliness ascends to its throne. Our nation has left the course on which it was plotted, for it has departed from the path of honesty and integrity. The values of the world have been inverted. There is little regard for God's standard of moral behavior. Widespread corruption in all levels of our society, including the government, has gained acceptance in recent years. When the innocent suffers and the wicked go free, when acts of sin and immorality become the accepted rather than the excepted, when the bad is promoted and the good suppressed, and when sins are licensed and prayer taken out of our schools; then I say the world is upside down.

You can become accustomed to viewing an object upside down. After a while, it seems alright. That has actually happened in this present world. Either this world is upside down and we have become accustomed to it that way, or we are standing on our heads and our lives are upside down. If a person's values have been inverted, then standing on his head he looks at the world and says, it looks alright to me. In such cases, both the person and the world are upside down! God said, "All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits" (Proverbs 16:2). When we become upright before God, we can easily recognize that this world is upside down.

What then are we willing to do about the situation? Are you willing to first get yourself upright before God? Will you now turn your world right side up. If enough of us will turn our world upside down, it will begin the process of turning this world right side up. The world today needs to be turned upside down as it was two-thousand years ago. However, it will happen only when you, and others like you, grow tired of the reign of sin and turn to God for help. With God's strength, we can succeed in turning the world upside down, which would then be right side up. God grant us daily the power and conviction to turn the world upside down, for the glory of God.

Remember, a few men who lived a long time ago, turned an ancient city upside down. What could millions of Christians do to set the world right, if we were willing and committed to do so? Now is the time for self-examination and today is the right time to discover whether we are willing to set things right in our present, evil world. As in ancient times, it will take a strong commitment to live by God’s holy word. I am convinced that at the very least, we will turn our own lives upside down and make them right in the sight of Christ our Lord. Hopefully, when enough individual Christians do the same thing, we will see our nation begin to do the same. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21).

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014