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Love’s power “turned the world upside down”

February 9, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Acts 17:2-8

2 As was Paul’s custom, he entered the synagogue and for three Sabbaths interacted with them on the basis of the scriptures. 3 Through his interpretation of the scriptures, he demonstrated that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. He declared, “This Jesus whom I proclaim to you is the Christ.” 4 Some were convinced and joined Paul and Silas, including a larger number of Greek God-worshippers and quite a few prominent women.
5 But the Jews became jealous and brought along some thugs who were hanging out in the marketplace. They formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They attacked Jason’s house, intending to bring Paul and Silas before the people. 6 When they didn’t find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city officials. They were shouting, “These people who have been disturbing the peace [King James Version: “turned the world upside down”] throughout the empire have also come here. 7 What is more, Jason has welcomed them into his home. Every one of them does what is contrary to Caesar’s decrees by naming someone else as king: Jesus.” 8 This provoked the crowd and the city officials even more.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Jesus’ life principles clearly changed the world now, not just later. Scholar William Barclay wrote, “[Paul’s enemies] charged the Christian missionaries with preaching political insurrection…. ‘Those,’ they said, ‘who are upsetting the civilized world (Literal Greek who have turned the world upside down) have arrived’…. When Christianity really goes into action it must cause a revolution both in the life of the individual and in the life of society.” *

  • Jesus was not just a genial, friendly storyteller. He was counter-cultural—his teachings and actions regularly upset the status quo. The people in charge quickly saw him as a threat, even though his human status and power were lower than theirs. As you become a disciple Jesus tends to upset the status quo of your life too. In what ways has Jesus turned your world upside down… or, more accurately, right-side-up?
  • “The reason the [Christian] movement was turning the world upside down was because members of the movement gave their loyalty to someone named Jesus and committed themselves to living and witnessing to his way above all else.” ** Can you name a time when you opposed a powerful person or system (whether in your home, work, friendships, or community and nation) because of your loyalty to Jesus? What was the result, outwardly and in your inner self?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, I don’t want to maintain the status quo. I’m ready for you to be in charge, to upset my life in the best way possible. Help me be a part of creating a world that is fully right-side-up. Amen.

GPS Insights

Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller

Leah Swank-Miller serves as Director of Student Ministries at Resurrection Overland Park. A Kansas native, she has been a professional actress for nearly two decades, and she loves to see the vastness of God’s creation through theatre and the arts. Leah is pursuing an M.Div. from Saint Paul School of Theology. Leah, Brian, and their two children love to play tennis, golf, soccer, and board games.

I can’t help it. Whenever I hear (or read) the phrase “world turned upside down,” my music theater-loving brain always thinks of the Alexander Hamilton song by the same title. It comes towards the end of Act One, where their world is flipped upside down due to a revolution. To break free and liberate themselves from a tyrant, they declare, “I’m not throwin’ away my shot! Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young scrappy and hungry and I’m not throwin’ away my shot! I am not throwin’ away my shot! ‘Til the world turns upside down.”

Go with me here. The reason Paul and the early Christian movement were turning the world upside down was because believers were not “throwing away their shot” to transform the world through the radical love of Jesus Christ. Jesus knew his radical love, teachings, and actions reflected a countercultural approach that stood in contrast to his time’s dominant social, religious, and political norms. His message of love, justice, and compassion is what should inspire us to challenge injustice and work towards more inclusive and equitable communities. Are we ready to turn this world upside down in a right way? It will cost us something. It cost me.

Shaking up the status quo, fighting for social justice, and standing up for the inclusive, unashamed love of Jesus has cost me jobs, “friends,” “Christian communities,” comfort, and my old view of normalcy. It has upset my life in the best/most difficult way possible. I didn’t think I was capable of doing something so scary and daring until I let that radical love of Jesus use me to not sit on the sidelines anymore. I could use my voice to shake up the world around me in a way where love opposes systems of oppression, or I could stay quiet and comfortable. But if I am going to claim to be a follower of Jesus and his teachings and actions that regularly upset the status quo, then I can’t sit quietly by and throw away my shot.

© 2022 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 128.
** Bishop Michael Curry, The Power of Love (p. 75). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.