Acts 17:1-9-“A World Turned Upside Down”-Sunday Morning, November 9, 2008

   At the end of the London stage presentation of the Buddy Holly story, the short, mostly happy life of Buddy Holly ends, as you would know, in the plane crash in a field in Iowa. To commerate the event, the artist portraying Buddy Holly puts Holly's guitar on a guitar stand in the front-center of an empty stage.

   The message is plain. You remember Buddy Holly for his music.

   If someone put something center-front on an empty stage to commerate your life, what would it be? If your church were memorialized in such a way.

   The Ministers of the Early Church are called, "Those Who Turned the World Upside Down."

   This will not fit on a bumper sticker.

   It is a correct reading of the historical situation.

   The men who turn the world upside down are those who:

  • Go to the unwashed, unreached masses. This is the exact opposite of then recent tradition of the Jewish religious elite. It is the purposeful action of the Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the marks of His ministry is that the gospel is preached to the poor, Luke 4:18, quoting Isaiah 48:8,9. Further, Jesus announces He is purposeful in His preaching outside the polite realm, Luke 4:43. Moreover, Jesus stresses His intention to heal those who know their illness, Luke 5:31,32. Indeed, Jesus pronounces His personal blessing on the poor, the hungry, the hated, the reviled, the mourning, Luke 6:20-23, while equally putting His disapproval on those who think their riches amount to their spiritual condition, Luke 6:24-26.
  • Who reach the unreachable. Why are people unreachable? It is mostly because those who have something with which to reach the unreachable do not propose to reach them, with meaningful, transforming love. Jesus praises the faith of the Roman centurion, Luke 7:9, forgives the promiscuous woman, Luke 7:39,40, accepts rejection for His mission and for His message, Luke 9:21. Imitate Him in your availability to the unwashed masses.
  • Who connect, conciliate and conclude. Jesus lives among the Jasons of the world; so must we. To connect, you have to understand that Israel, portrayed by the Jews in this and other passage is not good or bad, but complicated, and so both good and bad. That is exactly the way we find all people, frankly, complicated, good and bad, and so in need of salvation, to understand their goodness and forsake their badness. God does not hate the Jews. God rejects their unrighteousness, as God hates unrighteousness on our part, as well. If we are to  connect with other people groups, we have to connect with our own need of spiritual purging.

   Yes, life is complex and so complicated people want something simple they can just reject or assent to according to some pithy catch phrases. We cannot offer anything so simplistic. Jesus is a complicated guy.

   His message as our mission is something we can understand. In fact, we can look at what He does and pronounce, "That is what I ought to be able to do."

   No, not the walking on water, raising the dead thing. We ought to be able to do the greater part of His ministry; that of preaching, healing relationships, calling the lost to salvation.

   What would they put front center stage for you? Well, start to decide what you want to be, want to do, want to be remembered for when your little plane goes on, or down.

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