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.

Acts 17: 6, 7

 

What a charge to have brought against you! Condemned for “turning the world upside down”. In more modern terms, they are charged with shaking up the system or with challenging the way that people in power are ruling and the decisions that they are making. So, the people of this town, Thessalonica, want to stand Paul and other followers of Jesus before the magistrates and have their seditious ways dealt with firmly and finally. You see, these Christians are trouble makers. They don’t act like the rest of the people. They proclaim allegiance to a different king. These men and women follow Jesus.

 

Their loyalty to Jesus is more than just an outward expression of submission to power and to enforced rule. The Romans who rule the land can never leave their swords behind, and their soldiers are quick to defend the rights that Caesar, their king, has claimed over the lives of the inhabitants of all lands where they are in power. Jesus is different. He commands that His followers lay down their swords, set aside dominance in humble submission to God, and seek to love the very people who oppose them. In this Christ-centric culture the strong give up their possessions and their position in order to care for the weak and the impoverished. They even do this to take care of the needs of people in far away lands. This sort of self-sacrificing and anti-consumerist life makes no sense. It was as troubling and anti-culture then as it is now.

 

It seems to me that our world is at least as worthy of being turned over as was the one that Paul lived in. There is much that can be done by each of us who know Christ to stand in opposition to the direction that our world is going. We can and should speak up and out for what is true, righteous, and holy. In doing this we need to continually seek God and be committed to listening to His voice as He directs us. Although we can and should care about the course that our nations and their leaders are following, we must also realize that we serve a different and a greater king than any national ruler. We also live in a far greater kingdom than any country can ever become. Our primary loyalty and our principle focus needs to be concentrated on knowing God. We do this by constant prayer, study and submission to His Word, and committed response to following Christ regardless of the cost. Perhaps then, we too can be accused of “turning the world upside down.”

 

 

 

 

It is the glory of God to conceal things,

but the glory of kings is to search things out.

Proverbs 25: 2

 

Personally I haven’t encountered any kings recently; in fact, if you disallow meeting people with titles such as “King of the Winterfest”, I have never actually met a king. This is true in a literal earthly sense. Yet I think I understand what the writer of this proverb was getting at. God is not careless with His wisdom. He knows that many people will simply laugh at the way that He tells us that we should live. It doesn’t seem to gain them any advantage, and it is too hard to maintain through all of the seasons of life. God also knows that we humans have a really hard time appreciating and valuing things which come our way too easily. So, despite the fact that entering into a relationship with God through Christ is quite simple to do, until we recognize our need we usually don’t do anything about it.

 

Yet God, the one True King, finds glory in the hiddenness of His truth. When people want to know how to live in a manner that is sustainably uplifting and that brings peace into our world, we need to search into the deeply concealed places. In effect we need to go mining for gold. We must work hard and dig deep while watching closely for the signs of hidden treasure and listening to the voice of God as He leads the search. God is glorified when people listen attentively to Him and follow His way of living closely. When we choose to make God the ruler of our lives and live with praise for His loving grace on our lips, we bring knowledge of Him to our land.

 

We become like the kings that God wants to ordain to rule when we search out His wisdom and choose to follow it. That doesn’t mean that we have the power to tell others what to do and how to live. We gain no control or status over others by following God. In fact, like Christ, we need to give away our positions of safety and might and accept humble submission to God as our new normal. Yet this is exactly what God seeks in an earthly king. He wants to bring us into His glory by showing us His truth and by equipping and empowering us to do His will. There is no greater mark of God’s ordination on an earthly ruler than to have that person bring justice and righteousness to others. God commissioned humanity to take dominion, to rule, over a broken world. He sends each of us into that world to bring the glory of His image to all of it that we touch.