The Upside Down Kingdom

“‘These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.’ And the people and the city authorities were disturbed when they heard these things.” Acts 17:6-8

The Jews in Jesus’ & Paul’s day were often much more astute than we give them credit for.  Frequently they hit the nail on the head, but we just see them as enemies to be opposed.  Here in Acts, they make a very telling statement.  “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…”  Apparently they have heard of this new teaching and very rightly see it as turning the world upside down.  When we correctly understand the nature of the Kingdom of God that Jesus came to bring, we see the truth in this statement.

Jesus says it again and again.  ‘He who would be first, should be last’, ‘He who seeks to save his life should lose it’, and so on.  Studying through the Gospels we see Jesus, in describing the Kingdom, turning everything on its head.  All that is our natural tendency to do, the Kingdom requires the opposite.  What kind of kingdom begins with the death of its king?  Only this one.

The kingdom Jesus describes in the sermon on the mount and elsewhere turns the world; its values, desires, goals; on its head.  It was offensive to the Jews who were seeking their own earthly kingdom and power.  They awaited a messiah but, like Peter when Jesus rebuked him,  did “not have the things of God in mind, but of man.”  Peter didn’t yet understand that the Kingdom Jesus was bringing required him to die to bring life.  That is completely upside down and inside out.  Of course Peter didn’t get it yet. But such is the Kingdom of God.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8.

But do we understand this today?  Are Christians living in an upside-down kingdom?  Do the things we value/strive for/encourage differ all that much from the rest of the world?  True, our is culture steeped in Christian influence, but has it ever been fully in line with the Kingdom of God?  Do we value Kingdom work more than the world does?  How much of our money, time, and energy goes to sports teams, movies, entertainment, and other things for our own benefit/enjoyment?  It is far too easy to get wrapped up in creating our own lives according to our own desires.  We want to have the power to direct our own kingdoms, and get disappointed or angry when we don’t have it.  How much of our money or time go toward serving “the least of these” as described in Matthew?  How much toward loving our enemies & praying for them, to taking up our crosses and dying to ourselves?  How many of our prayers revolve around us and the things that we want or need?  Do we practice or understand the purpose of praying “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”? These are things that do not come naturally to us.  They don’t serve our own happiness and purposes.  So who are we serving?

Jason Fitzpatrick and his family lay down their lives daily, forgoing comfort and luxury, to serve and bless the impoverished people of Mexico City. Read more about what the Lord is doing through them here: http://www.thevillageglobal.org/

Jason Fitzpatrick and his family lay down their lives daily, forgoing comfort and luxury, to serve and bless the impoverished people in and around Mexico City. Read more about what the Lord is doing through them here: http://www.thevillageglobal.org/

As Christians, we should be asking ourselves these questions.  In a world not so different from the first century (just as consumed with money, power, idols by different names, and serving self), are we living in such a way that anyone would accuse us of “turning the world upside down”?  If we are truly serving the Kingdom of God as Jesus taught, that is precisely how we should be living.

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Comments

  1. Only those who promote “another king” (Jesus), as a contrast to all the “kings” of earth, will become the same kind of “troublemakers” who turn the usual world (under the sway of its favorite “kings”) upside down.

  2. Amy Harvey says:

    I love reading your posts. Such wonderful thoughts. This site will not let me comment though, which is frustrating, so until I figure out what the deal is just know that I am so thankful to have you in my life. Makes living in this fallen world more bearable by just knowing you. So glad I had Ashley, so that you could be part of my family. Love you, guys, Mama

    ________________________________

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