Five hundred years ago, on Oct. 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, sparking the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
Pastor Erwin Lutzer said of the Reformation, “Many of us believe that it is, by all accounts, the most important recovery of the gospel since the days of the New Testament. … We have to rediscover these same truths if we want our own churches to be all they can be for the glory of God.”
We need good theology without apology; otherwise it will be our eulogy. That is the ultimate answer. It is Christ and his Word being lived out.
One day God will right all wrongs. One day God will take this sin-sick world that is presently upside down, and he will turn it right side up. Right now it seems as though everything is upside down. In our culture today, it seems as though that which was once celebrated as good and virtuous is now looked down upon with hatred and anger. Things that were once thought of as very bad are now acceptable and, in some cases, celebrated as good.
I’m reminded of the words of Thomas Jefferson, who said, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
The words of Isaiah are just as appropriate to our generation as they were to his when he said, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20 NKJV)
I was watching a talk show one night where the subject of adultery came up. One person had the audacity to actually say that adultery is wrong. The host of the program was outraged. His face turned beet red. He ranted, “How can you say adultery is wrong? Who are you to impose your views on me?”
It an attitude where we all make up the rules as we go, where your truth may not necessarily be my truth, where we can pretty much live as we please.
These are signs that our nation is crumbling on the inside. These signs are more dangerous than any threat from a foreign entity. Our greatest enemy is not across the waters somewhere. Our very decline lies in the things we are doing today.
The book of Acts records an interesting statement made about Paul and Silas: “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6 NKJV). These words clearly were not meant as a compliment. But in reality, it was a backhanded compliment, a recognition that these men were creating a stir wherever they went.
What the people who made that statement didn’t realize was that their world already was upside down. When you turn something upside down that is already upside down, then it is actually right side up. That is exactly what Paul and Silas were doing. They weren’t turning the world upside down as much as they were turning it right side up, because that is the way their world was.
That is the way our world is now as well. This world has been upside down ever since Adam and Eve sinned. It has been operating in reverse ever since. Even the best efforts of men never seem to resolve the dilemma we’re facing. With all of our advances in technology, with all of our improvements, with all of our so-called sophistication, humanity hasn’t become one bit better.
As Gen. Omar Bradley pointed out after World War II, “We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. … Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.”
With all of our technology, we have simply discovered new ways to kill one another, to destroy and to eradicate what God has done. Despite our advanced technologies and great abilities, we have made no progress in solving the basic human problems.
While Paul, Silas and the first-century church turned their world upside down, it seems that in the 21st century, the world is turning the church upside down. Think about it. The early church was made up of a relatively small group of Christians. Their numbers were not large like ours are today. They didn’t have the ability to get their message out like we do today. Yet in spite of that, they made a dramatic difference wherever they went.
Today with so many naming the name of Christ, our impact on the world seems to be null and void. We wonder what difference we’re really making. We’re allowing secular attitudes to find their way into the church and into our own lives as Christians. People who say they are Christians are living in immorality, having sex outside of marriage, playing with drugs, getting drunk, stealing, suing one another and divorcing one another.
It seems as though our culture is affecting us more than we are affecting our culture. We need Christians today who will take a stand for what is right, who will turn this world upside down as the early church did. We need more believers today to be both salt and light in our culture.
Sure, we could some more preachers, teachers, evangelists and missionaries. But we also need Christian journalists. We need Christian broadcasters, artists, doctors and lawyers. We need believers letting their light shine in professional sports, in politics, in entertainment and in the business world. We need truly godly police officers and godly people in the military. We need to go out there and be true believers and turn our world upside down.
You may say, “Greg, I’m not a preacher.” That’s OK. People need to see a flesh-and-blood Christian, a real man or woman of God living the Christian life in the same neighborhood where they live, in the same place where they work, and at the same school where they attend. They need to see the real thing.
God can use you. Maybe you’re not a preacher, but you can proclaim the gospel message through your life and through your words. You can turn your world upside down.