Upside Down World

Sermon on The Beatitudes

Christ’s sermon in Luke chapter 6 is full of surprising statements that seemed to his listeners (and even to us!) to turn the world upside-down! He was tearing apart the assumption that there is a connection between material blessing and spiritual blessing. Just because someone is rich doesn’t mean they are spiritually blessed. In fact, Christ says it is the poor who have a claim in the Kingdom of God. That’s not to say that all poor people are saved and all rich people are lost. It just means there is no connection between economic status and spiritual status.

Paul’s and Silas’ missionary travels outlined in Acts 16 demonstrate that there is no single type of person who follows Christ. In just one city called Philippi, we see Lydia, a wealthy merchant, following Christ. Then, between Lydia’s house and the synagogue, Paul and Silas speak to and convert a slave girl, for which they get thrown in prison. Then, when God opens the doors of the prison, the jailer also is converted! Talk about three people from three very different walks of life, all brought into fellowship with Christ and each other through His saving grace! In the next chapter, when Paul and Silas have moved on to Thessalonica, they are described as “the men who have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

We need to be aware that following Christ will almost certainly change our lives drastically. We might change careers and income brackets, and most definitely our relationships will change – friends may become enemies and enemies will become friends.

But Jesus defines all this upheaval as blessing! “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).

So regardless of how your life is now, whether you are experiencing material blessing or hardship, remember that this life is only temporary. God is preparing to turn this world upside down, and material status will not mean anything in that day. Your responsibility now is to steward any material blessing in such a way that the Kingdom of God will flourish in spiritual blessing to all those around you. We are first and foremost citizens of God’s eternal kingdom, and we hold all the things of this earth loosely, in the hope of being used mightily for God’s eternal purposes.