Are You Ready to Turn the World Upside Down?
“These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too . . .” (Acts 17:6). Such was the accusation of an angry mob against Paul and Silas. The good news had persuaded a few too many for those who held the power. Christians were getting the attention of society. A gospel movement was forming. It all came to a head in the middle of a city. And the world turned upside down.
I read this passage, and I am burdened. Too few churches are ready to turn the world upside down. I wonder how many church leaders even believe it’s possible. Then I watch on TV and read about how some Christians stepped up during the Baltimore riots, how some are leading recovery efforts in Nepal, and how some are laying down their lives in dark places of persecution.
Let me be bold: We can turn the world upside down. And your church can put the neighborhood on its head.
A lot of research points to a waning of Christianity in North America. Church attendance is becoming less frequent. Perhaps your local church is declining. Ample support for pessimism exists. However, pessimists are never leaders. The point of leadership is to take people to a better place. Are you ready to turn the world upside down? You’ll need to be an optimist, and you’ll need patience.
Leadership requires optimism. Every time you share the gospel, you should believe God will save. Every mission trip, every ministry effort, and every Sunday morning should be led with eternal optimism. We don’t know how and when God will work, but He does work. John 14:12 reveals a promise to which I cling: the promise of greater things. Jesus promises his followers more people to reach and more places to go. Pessimists don’t hop on airplanes to serve people halfway across the globe. Pessimists don’t give until it hurts. Pessimists don’t walk across the street to tell a neighbor about Jesus. We need an army of eternal optimists to turn the world upside down. We need pastors who believe in their churches. We need churches that believe in their pastors. We need a gospel boldness that never quits.
Leadership requires patience. True gospel optimism is not capricious. Some places have hard soil. Some people have hard souls. Turning the world upside down may not happen overnight, and it will take hard work. Impatient leaders will make decisions selfishly, attempting to speed up the process artificially. Impatient churches will wrongly condemn leaders who do not “perform.” A patient leader also understands scope—you may not be the one who leads a global movement. But you can influence the people in your neighborhood. If everyone did that faithfully, this blue marble we live on would flip.
Balancing both patience and optimism is difficult. How does it happen? Consistent urgency. Luke 10:3 gives a simply command: “Now go.” This command is for every believer. We never stop going. We never stop believing God will do great things. We never stop digging into our local communities through our local churches. We simply remain consistently and patiently urgent. Now go . . . and watch the world turn upside down.