This was a complaint against Paul and those working with him made by the Jews when Paul came to Thessalonica. The Jews were not happy because Paul was upsetting the status quo and many Jewish followers were instead following Jesus in every city that Paul visited. The Jewish complaint was, in fact, a complaint against Paul’s overwhelming success in persuading people to follow Jesus.
Paul’s success as an evangelist is undeniable, and “turning the world upside-down” seems a proper description of what Paul accomplished.
So, as I look at the Church today, I don’t see nearly the intensity that I see recounted in the Bible. In fact, in the Western World at least, I see the Church as being ineffectual for the most part, and I wonder why. And in wondering, I think I have some idea why we are so ineffective.
So lets look at the average Western believer for a minute. He, or she, is likely married, working and with children, supporting a mortgage payment, two or more cars, looking to get ahead in their career, and looking for ways to make life a little easier and more comfortable. More likely than not, these people came to Jesus by praying a simple prayer and were told that if they were sincere in their prayer, then their eternal destiny is safe in Jesus.
Okay, done. They will go to Church when they get tje chance, maybe even put a few dollars in the offering plate. But their eternal destiny is secure, so they don’t need to let any religious exercise get in the way of pursuing their next raise or a better car or even a bigger house.
And that, to a large extent describes the Church and the average believer.
But lets look at Paul and see if we can see why he was able to turn the world upside down for Jesus. I think if you compare Paul’s life to the life of the average believer today, you would say that the reason that Paul was so effective is that Paul lived an upside-down life. Living upside-down would be taking all of the commonly accepted behaviors, things that we might consider to be our top priorities, and turning upside-down, making a top priority a bottom priority instead.
We might like to live in security, knowing that we have a roof over our head, a car in the garage, and a steady income so we can always count on our next meal. Paul, on the other hand, might have considered it a good day if he was not both stoned and shipwrecked in the same day.
We are happy that we are saved and know it because we prayed a little prayer one time. Paul said:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. — Galatians 2:20
We may find ourselves flirting with sin from time to time, but Paul was dead to sin:
Likewise also reckon yourselves to be truly dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ, Jesus, our Lord. — Romans 6:11
Sin had no place in Paul’s life, rather, he presented his body to God:
Neither present your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but present yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. — Romans 6:13
And finally, Paul took very seriously the words of Jesus:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. — Luke 9:23
Jesus was not part of Paul’s life, not even the most important part. Jesus was Paul’s life! Paul’s life was upside-down from we we consider normal and acceptable, and as a result, Paul, along with the other Apostles and early believers, was able to turn his world upside-down.
Will you join me in praying for an army of upside-down believers to dramatically change the direction of the Church in North America and Europe?