Does it seem to you that our whole world has been turned upside down in the last few months? Nothing seems to be as it was just six months ago. The Covid-19 virus started the shift that led to everything being different. Go back in your mind six months and try to imagine someone telling you that in three months the world would change entirely. People would be wearing masks everywhere they went. You would be keeping social distances from others. Obviously they would have to explain what social distancing was since none of us had ever heard of it before these last few months. The economy would be turned upside down and thousands of people would lose their jobs and tons of businesses would close to never reopen. Be honest with me. Wouldn’t you have thought the person telling you such was some kind of nut? I find it interesting that none of the TV preachers who claim the gift of prophesy were prophesying anything like what has happened until it was already well under way. Then they came up with proclamations about how it fulfilled some obscure prophesy that 99 times out of 98 were referring to something entirely different when written.
But now we have had an additional flip of the world, at least in the United States. When four policemen in Minneapolis arrested a man on a minor offense that led to them executing him because he didn’t respond as they wanted him to it tipped the scales on a pot already at the boiling point. The fact the policemen that held his knee on the man’s neck that cut off his ability to breath and resulted in his death was a white man and the man murdered was black has led to protest and rioting in cities all over the country. I suspect the frustration of the pandemic added to the anger, frustration and the mindset, of “I’ve had all I can stand and something has to change now.” It is certainly difficult for one who is not black to grasp the degree of anger felt by those who are black. But if you have ever felt you were put down, had doors closed in your face and mistreated by people all around you just because of where you grew up or because of some family heritage you have, then you at least have a clue of what is involved. I just finished reading the book “Slavery’s long Shadow” that was recommended to me by a good friend and it certainly offers a world of insight into the whole thing. What is heart breaking to me is that far too often our Christian heritage has tried to justify the horrendous treatment of those who are black and even tried to justify slavery. When I read the quotes of preachers who tried to justify holding a whole race of people down and claiming they are inferior in some way I understand why so many are angry and much of the anger is pointed toward churches. I suspect the anger they feel toward churches is very similar to the anger the Lord feels toward those churches and preacher who tried to excuse ungodly actions and justify segregation.
When Paul and Silas were on the second missionary journey they were arrested and accused of turning the world upside down. But in their case, turning it upside down was really turning the world right side up. The world had gone in a totally wrong direction worshiping Caesar as a god and calling him their savior and lord. When God sent his one and only Son into the world to bring salvation to all who would come to him, he was largely rejected even by the religious teachers who had been foretelling the coming of the Messiah into the world. He didn’t fit the mold they had in mind for the Savior. He didn’t come as a military leader to go out with a white horse and sword to destroy the enemy. He came as one who was gentle and lowly of heart to provide rest to the souls of people. He reached out to the lowly, the suffering, the mistreated and the rejected of society. When a rejected leper came to him saying, “Lord if you are willing you can make me well.” Jesus response was to reach out and touch him that the world saw as untouchable and to say, “I am willing. Be cleansed.” The man was healed instantly. He healed the gentile woman’s little daughter, and a man named legion. His view was toward all people everywhere, not just those who looked like him. He loved the women and children just as he did the men.
Jesus looked at the religious leaders that the Jews thought had all the answers and called them a bunch of hypocrites who bound heavy burdens on others but did nothing to help them carry the load. The most shocking thing that Jesus did, was to submit to the ruling authorities and allow them to beat him and then nail him to a cross to die as though he were a criminal, thus paying the price for our sins so that we can be redeemed, forgiven and reconciled to God.
I passionately want to turn the world upside down again, but not by rioting, burning down buildings or destroying the property of those who had nothing to do with the crime against anyone. I want to turn it upside down so that we recognize that what really matters in life is love, compassion and grace from God and toward others. I want to turn it so that we can see that a person’s value isn’t based on their color, race or what they do for a living or how much money they have. They are valuable because they are made in the image and likeness of God. He loved everyone. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get the world right side up and have people to see things from a right point of view? Life would change.
The reality is, I can only change one person and that is me. I can change my heart and attitude and be the person God calls me to be. I can teach and love and share in the world in hope that others change. But I can only offer an example and the teaching. It is up to each person to determine how they will live in the world. What should lead us all to give it serious thought is the reality that a judgment day is coming in which God will bring all our works into judgment and our eternal destiny depends of that judgment.