“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.” – Acts 17:6b (NKJV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. – Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
Back when writing was still a “someday” thing, I wrote a short story about a man who woke up one day with his bed on the ceiling. His whole world was turned upside down, and he had to figure out how to get it right-side up again.
While I made up this children’s story just for fun, I now see a deeper meaning, especially when I consider the words recorded in Acts 17:6: “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”
Who were “they” and what did they do to “turn the world upside down”?
“They” were Paul and Silas. And they “turned the world upside down” by preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). Many in that city—Thessalonica—believed and received Jesus as their Savior and began to turn their own lives around, learning the words of Jesus and obeying them.
True believers, by the very way they live their lives, turn the world upside down—then and now. The perspective of the Christian is a divine, not worldly, point of view, and to obey God means to “live on the ceiling.”
“THE LAST WILL BE FIRST, AND THE FIRST LAST.” (Matthew 20:16). The rush is to be Number 1 and pity the person in the way. Not so, said Jesus. If you want to be raised up, bow down: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). In other words, the way to up is down.
“THE GREATEST OF YOU WILL BE YOUR SERVANT.” (Matthew 20:20–28). James and John got in big trouble with the rest of the disciples when they got their mother to ask Jesus to put them on either side of Him when He ruled the Kingdom. Greatness, in the eyes of the world, equals power over others, “lording it over others,” as Jesus said. But true greatness is in serving; the true leader will be a servant. And then God’s Son demonstrated what He meant by washing his disciples’ feet—the job of the lowest servant in the household. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). And again, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
GIVE IN ORDER TO RECEIVE: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over . . . For the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). This echoes God’s command in Malachi 3:10: “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse . . . and try Me now in this . . . If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
DIE TO LIVE: Just as the seed must die in order to produce life (John 12:24–25), so the believer must die to self in order to inherit eternal life. That means denying selfish desires and submitting to God’s Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer. It’s hard to say no to our wants—this is the reverse of what the world tells us.
Are you living life upside down or right-side up?
Help me, O God, to live each day right-side up. Amen.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on any of the verses quoted in the text.