Scripture read (read entire of Acts 17):
…”Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down, and now they are here disturbing our city.” (Acts 17:6 – NLT)
Turn the world upside down…wow! Now that’s the kind of reputation that accomplishes things. How many Christians today have that reputation? Here Paul and Silas had been preaching in Thessalonica about Jesus. The passage records that large numbers of people (godly Greek men and many important women in the city) were becoming Christians and that the Jewish religious leaders started stirring up mobs against Paul and Silas out of jealousy. They went to the house of Jason, a believer, suspecting that he was harboring Paul – when they couldn’t find Paul or Silas they dragged Jason and others of his household out before the city council and then yelled out the above statement. They also made accusations charging Jason and the believers with treason among other things.
As I read this the words, “turn the world upside down” really stood out to me. To the jealous Jewish leaders they saw the work of Paul and Silas bringing chaos to the world and so causing trouble to their ‘way of living’ and what they know about the world. So, in one sense Paul and Silas, doing the work of Christ, were indeed turning these Jewish leaders world upside down. But in a truer sense, the spreading of the gospel message is actually, turning the world rightside up! Whatever the perspective – one thing is certain, Paul and Silas obedience to Christ and empowerment by the Holy Spirit was having a world changing influence wherever they went. I guess why this scripture leapt out at me is because I long to have that kind of influence in my life. Yet, like many Christians any influence I have is limited in scope.
Reading further in Acts 17 reveals some of the reasons why Paul and Silas had such influence. Not only did they share about the good news in synagogues and religious venues but they also engaged the philosophers, and cultural people of the cities they visited.
When in Berea they preached truth and didn’t deviate from God’s word. The Berean people searched the scriptures day after day to check up on Paul and Silas and because what Paul and Silas matched up with God’s word more and more Jewish believers and God-fearing men and women became Christians.
Later, while Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens he noticed all the idols around the city. When speaking to the Council of Philosophers in Athens he engaged them on the subject of Christ by beginning with his observations about the idols and the cultural practices they had. Repeating a common technique he used wherever He went – Paul shared the truth of the gospel in the context of the people he was speaking to.
Summary? Paul and crew were effective world-changers for the following reasons:
1. They spoke and modeled the truth of the gospel.
2. They spoke and ministered under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
3. They sought to understand who they were speaking to so that they could more effectively share their message.
4. They genuinely cared for the people they were ministering to.
My prayer? Lord, I want to be someone you work through to turn the world upside down (even though it’s really turning the world right-side up). I pray that you will give me influence in my community and in the relationships I have as I do what Paul did – speak truth, seek your anointing, work to understand the people in my sphere of influence, and genuinely care for people you place in my life. My prayer is also for my church that we would have that kind of world-changing influence in our community!