“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you.’ Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews became jealous, and with the help of some ruffians in the marketplaces they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly, they attacked Jason’s house. When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These people have been turning the world upside down and have come here also, and Jason has entertained them as guests. They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus.’ The people and the city officials were disturbed when they heard this, and after they had taken bail from Jason and the others, they let them go.” Acts 17:1-9
God’s grace is at work, on the move, in different ways simultaneously – do I/you/we recognize the presence of God and accept this move of the Spirit, or do we deny and fight against it? We know Paul’s story well, the book of Acts (and his letters) tell us over and over of God’s grace in his life, (prevenient, justifying and sanctifying). God working preveniently through Paul introduced thousands to grace. Many accepted, but many fought against believing. They became jealous, they became violent, they remained worldly, they remained self-centered, they denied creator God choosing to protect self-interest. Yes, the love and grace of God, when accepted as it is offered, does turn one’s world upside down. Go back and read the story of Saul’s (Paul’s) conversion – an extremely religious murderer to world’s greatest evangelist in a moment. Yet, he continued to study so that he could proclaim with assurance Jesus as Messiah. See in those who refuse to believe the same opportunity to choose Christ, yet they form a mob and create an uproar. Which King or king will I/you/we choose to follow and believe? Creator God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) or only some portion of God? Will we be like the Athenians who attempted to cover all the bases worshiping an unknown god? Paul responds, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed, anything, since he himself gives all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him – though he in indeed not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:23b-27 Physical blindness causes one to grope and search for safety and comfort; Spiritual blindness causes one to grope and search for the Creator. Created in the image of God, the creation gropes for a connection. The Creator, God, offers that connection through grace and love. The question for each of us, is will we accept the free-gift or will we fight against it. Die to self, quit turning the world upside down in a negative way, stirring up mobs of protest against God. Let’s stir the world into mobs of love and grace, many of them will believe!