Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Turning the World Upside Down

I have read this before. This isn't the first time that I have spent time reading the book of Acts. Don't ask me why I returned to it this time but I have. Every time that I read one of the books of the Bible, I run across something that really strikes me, something that I have read before but didn't take notice. This time I did.

I was reading in Acts 17, about Paul and Silas in Thessalonica. Something was said about them (though they couldn't find Paul and Silas and had Jason dragged before the magistrate instead) there in Thessalonica which had also been said in Philippi. They said, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also..." (Acts 17:6 ESV).

They have turned the world upside down. That is exactly what the Gospel does. It turns the world upside down. It is confusing to the world, to the unbeliever because it takes and changes everything. In Christ, a person is given forgiveness. This seems so wrong. It is undeserved and unmerited, and yet it is given to you. Forgiveness is given not because you have earned it, nor have you deserved it. It is given entirely and completely by the grace of God. It is a free gift, given through Jesus' blood and merit.

More than that, faith in Jesus is a free gift, given by the Holy Spirit. It is only when the Spirit moves in your heart and brings you into that relationship with Jesus Christ that you can say, "Jesus is Lord." This makes no sense. It turns our world upside down. "I should be able to bring myself to faith," we think to ourselves. But we can't. The Spirit must change our hearts and lives.

He does this (and this really turns our world upside down) through His Means of Grace - Word and Sacraments (Baptism/Lord's Supper). He works through these means to bring us to faith and keep us in the faith. Now that really turns our world upside down. The Spirit works through means, through word, through water & word, through bread and wine? Impossible! But that is exactly how He works.

And there we are, facing the same thing as the people in Philippi and Thessalonica. Our world is turned upside down by the message of the Gospel. How do we respond? It through them into a frenzy, facing something they couldn't comprehend or accept. You? Me? What does it do to us?

It turns my world upside down. And I am glad for it. I praise God that my salvation does not rely upon me and my actions. I give all glory to Jesus Christ for saving me. I lift up the Holy Spirit as the One who has worked in my heart and life, and continues to work in my life.

A world turned upside down. That is truly what we need today.

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