The World Turned Upside Down

November 28th, 2007 • Category: Book of Acts
by Keith Phillips

Today’s scripture: Acts 17:1-15 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Keith Phillips):

Occasionally, the old King James Version of the Bible is okay. For some reason, I prefer to read the Twenty-third Psalm and the Christmas story in the Elizabethan English of five hundred years ago. I also like the phrasing of verse six in this passage where the Jewish rabble rousers of Thessalonica complain about the Christians: “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.” They were certain that the empire was not secure with Christians on the loose.

“These that have turned the world upside down…” What a description for Christians! And the rabble rousers rightly discern the source of the ability to turn the world upside down when they report that the Christians are “saying that there is another king named Jesus.” King Jesus does turn our worlds upside down. When we know that we are unconditionally loved by God and begin to trust and follow Jesus, no matter who we are or what we’ve done (or, who the world thinks we are, or what the world thinks we’ve done), we are transformed into children of the King.

Another interesting thing in this passage has to do with the response of the two cities, Thessalonica and Berea. When Paul and Silas preached the Good News of God’s love at Thessalonica, a few believed but mostly the response was negative, enough to get the Christians thrown out of town. On the other hand, in Berea many believed: “they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were true.”

I might be tempted to state a dichotomy: bad response in Thessalonica, and good response in Berea. But remember, our God is always turning the world upside down. It’s intriguing that the oldest book in the New Testament is not one of the Gospels, but rather Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians; a wonderfully hopeful, encouraging letter to them. And, we never hear about the church at Berea again! Hmmm…

Thought for the day: How is God turning my world upside down? Am I seeing God’s plan unfolding in startling new ways in my life?

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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