Upside Down

Read: Acts 17:1-9

These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also. (v. 6)

How did you react the first time you understood the gospel of God’s grace in Jesus? Joy? Worship? Guilt? Fear? Rebellion? The one thing the gospel doesn’t do is leave anyone the same. The men in the mob were correct when they exclaimed that Paul had “turned the world upside down” (v. 6). This was Paul’s second missionary tour. The gospel was spreading. He had just come from Philippi, where his preaching led to a beating and imprisonment (Acts 16). Now a mob threatened vigilante violence, as if Paul had jumped from the frying pan into the fire!

Grace confronted the religious legalism of the synagogue with the need and possibility of forgiveness unattainable by obedience. Grace also confronted the pleasure-seeking paganism of the Greeks with the unsurpassed joy of God’s unconditional love. When both Jews and Greeks began responding to the message, the Thessalonian Jews grew angry with jealousy.

Jesus still turns our world upside down. Our straitjacketed, legalistic hearts need to be set free and our pleasure-seeking lifestyles need a more satisfying wholeness. Because Jesus is the Christ (v. 3), we are forgiven! We find true joy! Our world is rocked. Some of the Thessalonians turned to Christ. They formed a small church to whom Paul wrote two letters. We’ll walk through these in the days to come and trace the life of faith in a world turned upside down. —Jon Opgenorth

As you pray, ask God to turn your world upside down.

About the Author

Rev. Jon Opgenorth serves as president of Words of Hope. Previously, he served for 18 years as senior pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. In preparation for ministry, he received a BA in Religion from Northwestern College, and an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary.