Turning The World Upside Down
“These men who have upset the world have come here also, and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king, Jesus.” Acts 17:6b-7.
Paul and Silas were teaching the gospel in the synagogue at Thessalonica. Jewish leaders in the city became jealous and wanted to stop the spread of the gospel. So they formed a mob in the market place with a bunch of street thugs. They caused a riot hoping Roman authorities would send in the riot squad to stop these followers of Jesus from spreading the Good News.
But they didn’t keep Paul and Silas from teaching. For three Sabbaths Paul and Silas explained the scriptures and gave evidence that Jesus was the Christ and had to suffer and die then rise from the dead. Were they successful? Luke writes, “…some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas along with a large number of God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.” Acts 17:4.
Why were they so successful? How were so many persuaded to believe their teaching? Why did some listeners join these disciples? Because Paul and Silas were laser-focused on a single goal — spreading the Gospel. These followers of Jesus dared to turn the city upside down with their message. They were proclaiming that Christ is the Messiah and He rose from the dead.
How did they succeed? They succeeded because they were living transformed lives. Transformed lives that reflected the power of the resurrection.
The resurrection is the key to Paul’s story. It is the key to our story as well. Christ is the hope of glory because He came out of the ground. Without the resurrection we have no Savior. No hope. No glory. Without the resurrection Jesus’ ministry would have ended at the cross. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is the basis for a transformed life. It is the power of the resurrection that determines whether we will live transformed lives
Each of our lives is a story. Some chapters are delightful and peaceful and fulfilling. Some chapters are full of turmoil, heartache, pain and loss. But if we’re to live transformed lives we can’t allow the painful and sorrowful chapters to define our lives. In fact living a transformed life means we can rejoice in our wilderness journeys and our doubts and fears and the pain and loss. God allows the opposition we encounter in life to move us forward in His will for us. Each human encounter we have, each relationship, each lousy neighbor, each of our obnoxious cousins at family reunions are all in our lives to impact our lives in a way that allows God to mold us into humble servants for His glory. Paul was beaten, flogged, stoned, put in prison, scorned and more. But he didn’t allow any of the horrible things they did to him deter him from his single purpose–to preach Christ and Christ crucified. This fearless apostle could rejoice in his afflictions and still confess that “to live
is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
At the end of your life, the last chapter of your story will either be you and God or you and nothing. So, are you living a transformed life? A more relevant question to ask might be: Do you even want to live a transformed life? What does a transformed life look like. You can’t get one from your pastor. You can’t order one from ebay. You can’t pray your way into a transformed life. You can’t Bible study your way into a transformed life. You can’t one day declare to your family and friends, “From now on I’m going to live a transformed life.” The only true transformed life is a four-fold process. The process of discovery includes information, education, inspiration and ultimately transformation. In Acts 17 Luke gives us a vivid account of how Paul demonstrates the process of transformation.
The first step is to acquire information. V. 17:2 says, “And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them and for three Sabbaths, reasoned with them from the Scriptures.” Paul shared information with them. Our brains are full of information, most of which we will rarely, if ever, use. Information is just facts, news, formulas, Scriptures. Sadly, some church-goers never get past the information cycle. But knowing something doesn’t mean the information has any impact on you or others.
Information must lead to education. Those who hung around and listened to Paul wanted to learn more. Paul not only read the Scriptures to them, he explained the Gospel message to them and enhanced the information with evidence and his own testimony. He taught them who Christ was and how they could have a personal relationship with Him.
With his teaching Paul brought his listeners to a place where they could move forward in their lives. They became inspired, probably even excited, when they heard and believed what Paul told them, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” Imagine for a minute how awed and excited some of Paul’s listeners must have been to hear this teaching for the very first time, to believe it and put their hope in the resurrected Christ.
Then comes that glorious moment when, after hearing Paul teaching they could say, “Now I get it.” That’s an Ah ha moment. An epiphany. And their lives were changed forever. “Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.” V.17:4
At some point we all have to ask ourselves, “Do I get it?” Is the resurrection power of Jesus making a difference in the way I live?
We are fortunate every week to hear God’s transforming truth in the messages from Brother Gearl. What happens to you when you leave the building? What do you take with you? Is it information? Is it education? Did it lead you to want to know more? Was it inspirational? Did the message resonate in your spirit? Will it move you forward in your walk with Jesus? Were you moved by God’s Word or His truth? Did you learn anything new? Finally, did what you hear transform your life? Are you going to change the way you respond to your kids, your family, your co-workers, your students? Did you allow God’s truth from His word to change your life in any way?
Were you inspired enough to leave the building and turn your world upside down? If you walked out inspired and transformed by God, you’re on your way to living a transformed life.