I can remember when I first started following Jesus after my senior year of high school, someone asked me, “how is your spiritual life going?” I had been around church enough to know that they meant, “how is your relationship with Jesus?” The question itself reveals the way that we often think of life as being divided into compartments. We have our spiritual life, our relationship life, our family life, our financial life, and our physical life. We even periodically imagine that the boxes don’t bleed over from one to the other. However, the first followers of Jesus didn’t view following Jesus in that way. For them, allegiance to Jesus changed everything, not just their “spiritual life.”
One of the best examples we have of this is a reference to the way people were thrown off by the devotion of Christians in Thessalonica. In Acts 17:6-7 Luke recorded, “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.” Notice that when the early followers of Jesus made the claim that Jesus is Lord, it wasn’t just a religious claim, it was a political claim too – and it was the political side of the assertion that got them in trouble. For them, religion and politics were intricated and explicitly intertwined primarily because Caesar demanded worship.
Luke pointed out that the claim “Jesus is Lord,” turned the world upside down. However, it didn’t turn the world upside down because of what happened inside the church building or solely in the spiritual lives of Christians, it turned the world upside down because of the way they claim “Jesus is Lord” caused early followers to live differently. They worshipped differently, they loved differently, they used their money differently; but they also interacted in the public square differently. Following Jesus doesn’t just change our spiritual life, it transforms our whole life.
What might it look like for followers of Jesus to “turn the world upside down” through the declaration that “Jesus is Lord?” What might it look like for the claim “Jesus is Lord” to shape our politics just like it did for the early church? It would mean that the kingdom and reign of God became our first priority. It would mean that allegiance to Jesus was primary over every other affiliation. It would mean that we sought to follow his way in all that we do
Take some time today and ask the Spirit to reveal places of your life that you need to surrender to the lordship of Jesus. After that, join me in praying that the Lord would once again turn the world upside down through his followers.
Pastor Ryan Paulson