August 29, 2016: Turning the World Upside Down for Good

Posted on : Aug 29th, 2016 | By | Category: Still Speaking

In this year’s election cycle, there has been a lot of yelling and screaming from people who are “Mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.” The pollsters tell us a lot of people are so frustrated and angry that they just want change. They don’t seem to know what change they want or how they are going to get it, they just want change. In reality, I think what they really want is to go back to a time and place in history (in their lives) when they thought things were better. That however, is seldom the answer to our problems. The past is never as glorious as we remember it. What it is, at least for many, is a safer time in their lives because they’ve been there and made it through whatever the challenges of the time were.

Warren Buffett, the 85 year old self-made billionaire who is usually ranked as the second wealthiest American was recently asked about “the decline in today’s standard of living and the fear that the next generation of children will have a life that is worse than their parents.” He answered by offering a comparison. He said, “Let’s compare the average American family today with John D. Rockefeller.” John D. Rockefeller, Sr. was an American oil industry tycoon and philanthropist, who is considered to be the wealthiest American of all time by virtually every source, and — largely — the richest person in modern history. Rockefeller was born in 1839 and died in 1937. Buffett says, “The quality of life for the average American today far surpasses anything the Rockefellers had.”

For example, J. D. Rockefeller was born at a time in history when there were no televisions, no computers, and no smart phones. In fact, only the very wealthy had a phone. There was no internet. So what was the common source of information? The rich had private libraries in their homes. Others depended on public libraries. Only the very wealthy had a car. Henry Ford had not yet invented the assembly line, so the mass production of “affordable” automobiles was yet to be. As for medicine, Penicillin was not even discovered until 1928, and then, Penicillin was considered “the miracle drug.” There were no washing machines, no clothes dryers, no refrigerators, no automatic hot water heaters, no central heating or AC. In fact, just about everything that we take for granted in our standard of living today was not available to the wealthiest American. Knowing what we know today about the rapid development of science and social change, it is hard to believe that our standard of living is going to decline.

So, the fix to the world’s problems is probably not to go back to “the way things were” but rather to think about what really needs to change. The writer of the book of Acts tells us about one way of turning the world upside down that offers massive potential for the betterment of all of our lives. Check out this week’s devotional:






Purple Flowers

Turning the World Upside Down

Richard L. Floyd

“When the mob could not find Paul and Silas, they dragged some believers before the city authorities, shouting, ‘These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also.'” – Acts 17:6

Paul and Silas got in big trouble in Thessalonica. Paul preached for several days, explaining that Jesus was the messiah and that he had to suffer and die. Many listeners were convinced and followed them.

But there was backlash. Luke writes, “They formed a mob and set the city in an uproar.” They said, “These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also.”

They didn’t mean it as a compliment, but “turning the world upside down” is exactly what the Good News about Jesus did that day.

And when I look around at our world today I long for it to be “turned upside down.” I wonder what would it take for us to be accused of “turning the world upside down?”

What if we told of God’s radical reconciling love for the whole world that we know in Jesus? What if we told of Jesus’s concern for the poor, his acceptance of sinners, his embrace of outsiders, and his forgiveness of enemies? What if we told how he said to turn the other cheek and walk the second mile?

What if we told how Jesus told us to choose love, not hate, to choose faith not fear? What would it take?

Your world needs turning upside down, O God, and we can’t do it without you. Give us the courage to cause some uproar on behalf of the world you love.

Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. A writer and author, his most recent publications are Romans, Parts 1 and 2 (with Michael S. Bennett), new titles in the “Listen Up!” Bible Study Series. He blogs at

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