"These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also ... saying that there is another king, Jesus."
-- Acts 17:6-7, ESV
Roy Van Winkle went to sleep one night in 1982, slept for 40 years, and woke up in 2022. He turned on that new news channel he remembered, CNN, to see what was happening. He saw a gay reporter, Anderson Cooper, interviewing a transgender government official, Rachel Levine. Old Roy shook his head, then realized that the world has always had a small percentage of people who are homosexuals, and an even smaller percentage of men who want to wear dresses, and he reckoned he could live with them.
On the first Sunday of his awakening, Roy went to church. He went inside and as the service began, he was a little surprised to see his new pastor was a woman, but many churches had started ordaining women before Roy went to sleep. However, early on in the service, the pastor made some references to a trip she had taken with her wife. Yes, the woman pastor had a woman wife. Now, Roy's head began to spin.
Upside-down lifestyles have always existed in the world, but old Roy was surprised to learn they had joined the church. As the worship service unfolded, he noticed the traditional Scripture Readings had been replaced with modern poetry. The sermon, which his former pastor used to deliver with Whitefield-like intensity, was really not a sermon at all, just a rambling talk about accepting change and promoting diversity.
Then Roy Van Winkle knew that the problem is not the world, still spinning upside down since original sin. The problem is the typical church has adjusted to the upside-down world without trying to turn it right side up with the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Into an upside-down world went the Apostle Paul, the old Greco-Roman world where politics was religion, power and money ruled, and sexual sin was normalized. Looks like not much has changed in the world. So what can the church do?
The church can be the compass of the world, pointing it in God's direction. Paul's missionary journeys were not meant to spread Christmas cheer, open coffee shops, or start yoga groups. Paul was in the world to plant churches, God-centered, biblical churches, which the world needs now much more than ever.
A Christian church is important to every community in the world because the world is upside down. God created it and its inhabitants to be good, but sin entered in and made it bad, fallen, upside down. Sin is rebellion against God's word, the Bible, and rejection of God's Messiah, Jesus Christ. No other entity in the world is equipped to battle sin and offer salvation like the New Testament church.
The Bible must be the authority in the church. A church is not a church if God's word is not the sole authority for faith and living. In Roy Van Winkle's world, they are getting harder and harder to find.
A true church cannot be built without the belief that the Bible is the authoritative, inspired word of God. And, lost people cannot be saved unless they first have a sense in which the Bible is true and can be trusted. If the church loses confidence in the Bible, what in the world is the world going to go? We need the Bible, for it is the foundation of the Gospel.
And the Gospel is the hope of the world. Paul did not waste time condemning lost people for all the ways in which their world was upside down. He did not vehemently attack them over issues like abortion, fornication, or homosexuality, although he does discuss them in his epistles to the churches. His message to the upside-down world can simply be summarized, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ."
We live in an upside-down world. Let us chain our churches to the word of God, and invite others to come and listen. Let us preach the gospel, to one another for inspiration, to the lost for salvation. Then one great day, we will rise to the top and see the light of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ. By the way, He'll be standing right side up!
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]