The Apostle Paul encountered opposition to Ephesus. The silversmiths, who made trinkets to honor the pagan goddess Diana, were concerned that the growth of the Christian Faith would cut into the profits of their trade.
Bringing some of the leading Christians before the civil magistrates, they delivered the charge: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also” (Acts 17:6).
While intended as a rebuke, in one sense, this charge was a great compliment. The pagans recognized that the Christian faith changed the very foundation so of life. This is a distinctiveness we need to recover. We need, as in the early church, to display a strong contract between the Christian faith and the unbelieving world.
Complacent and Compliant
The Bible clearly calls us to be distinctive in wearing the name of Christ.
Christians, in much of the world, do face persecution if they clearly stand for their faith. This is especially true where the Christian faith comes head to head with Islam. Our brethren in sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, deal with the consequences of their faith on a daily basis.
In America, thankfully, we are able to practice our faith in peace. This great danger we face in our setting is not a persecution from without but compromise from within.
We too, often, become comfortable with our status in the world. We go along to get along. Nothing in our teaching or practice can remotely be seen as upsetting the status quo. Far from turning the world upside down, we seem content to keep things on an even keel.
There is danger in letting comfort trump conviction.
We need to remember our call to be a light to the world, a city on a hill (cf. Matthew 5:14). Only with this clear distinctiveness can we be faithful in proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
Distinctively Christian If we want to turn the world upside down in our generation, as they did in the New Testament, we must be willing to take some uncompromised positions.
In a world that embraces sexual permissiveness, we must take a stand for biblical morality. The secular world is offended that we teach sexual expression is reserved by God to between a man and a woman in marriage. The more clearly we teach this truth, the more offensive we will be to the world.
Likewise, in a world that embraces pluralism, we must take a stand for exclusive claims of the Christian faith. Jesus is not just one way of salvation; He is the only way of salvation. We are not able to compromise with te inclusive spirit of the world.
While we respect those following other faiths and seek to treat them well, we cannot brush aside the real differences between us.
Calling me and women to the way of salvation in Jesus Christ is calling them to make fundamental changes in their way of life. We need to be willing to turn the world upside down with the message of the gospel.
Gregory Allen Tidwell from July 2017 Gospel Advocate, “Reprinted with permission, Gospel Advocate.”