6) And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;
7) Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.Acts 17:6-7 (KJV)
How do you respond to what the lost say about your faith? Specifically, when they reject it. Does it discourage you? Do you respond with anger? Or do you continue to speak the truth in love and pray for them as we are commanded to do? (Eph. 4:15)
One of the things that can help us respond properly to people’s rejection of the gospel is to understand that He is living in us and working through us. That includes every time we communicate His word to others. (Gal. 2:20 KJV)
Every time we present Jesus to someone there is a response because God draws all men to Him through what they hear, specifically the gospel. (Jn. 12:32 KJV, Rom. 10:17 KJV) What we preach is “the power of God unto salvation” and we need not be ashamed of that. (Rom. 1:16 KJV)
In fact, that should give us the greatest confidence no matter the responses we receive. What is more the response of rejection demonstrates to us that God is indeed working in others’ lives. Remember, the Holy Spirit is always working and is always drawing men to Christ when His message is presented.“Every time we present Jesus to someone there is a response because God draws all men to Him through what they hear, specifically the gospel.”
In this case, the people responded in the negative and proclaimed, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also”.
In the preceding verses, Paul and Silas had been reasoning with locals in the synagogue at Thessalonica for three sabbath days. (Acts 17:1-2 KJV) It was a bountiful harvest as many “devout Greeks” and “chief women” became Christians through Paul’s preaching. (Acts 17:4 KJV) However, some of the Jews present were filled with envy and began to cause a scene. (Acts 17:5 KJV)
Things got so intense that a mob was formed to find Paul and Silas and report them for treason. Ultimately the group forced Jason (who had been hosting Paul and Silas at his house) out of his home and reported him. Jason put up a pledge and the situation was quelled but it was a close call.“Seeds are being planted, sin challenged, and the possibility for lives to be changed is trying to be awakened, even in the midst of adverse responses from others.”
Notice again their response, “These that have turned the world upside down”. This statement wasn’t false, it was in reality quite true. Christianity did and still does turn the world upside down. In fact, from our side of things, it turns the world right side up!
In their attempt to discredit Christianity they gave it credibility. Persecution is serious but one of the ways we can find glory in the trials we face regarding our faith is by seeing through people’s adverse responses for what they are, affirmations of the gospel and God’s working.
Even people’s negative reactions towards the gospel prove its case. Knowing this is one of the many ways we can allow trials to work patience in us. (Rom. 5:3 KJV)
We grow in endurance and patience when we know that, even in the bad, God is working for our good and is restoring His kingdom. (Rom. 8:28 KJV) We are more patient and can endure more when we know that even when others are against us the power of the gospel is working. Again, Jesus is not to be ashamed of. Seeds are being planted, sin challenged, and the possibility for lives to be changed is trying to be awakened, even in the midst of adverse responses from others. “It is because Christianity turns the world at large and each believer’s world upside down that people react to it with great resistance and with great acceptance.”
Think about it, if Christianity and God’s word were not powerful, would people care? No. It is because Christianity turns the world at large and each believer’s world upside down that people react to it with great resistance and with great acceptance.
There is always a response and both can encourage us but we must remember in both scenarios to speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4:15 KJV) God’s message is powerful. We must not get angry when our lost friends react in resistant ways to our faith for the Holy Spirit is causing their sin nature to be challenged as He draws all men to Him.
So then, while persecution and rejection of the gospel will no doubt cause us sorrow, it is also proof that we serve a God greater than anything we can imagine. We must exercise the greatest care and discernment as we wield the power of God to salvation. A soft answer that turns away wrath is always best (Prov. 15:1 KJV) as are continual prayers for the lost.
We bring the gospel to all, that is good news, regardless if they accept it or not. This is our great commission. May we be confident in Jesus no matter the response. If people resist we know God is working on their hearts and if they accept we know God has worked on their hearts.
Either way, we are partakers of something far greater than ourselves, we are turning the very world upside down and right side up. Use that privilege wisely, be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matt. 10:16 KJV) Amen.