Turn the World Upside Down

Living in the 21st Century has its privileges. It also has its challenges. We have ‘all the best’ technology in the history of mankind. Some would argue we also have the worst moral compass in centuries. Both may be true, or at least arguably true. I think it is time for a change.

Brethren, God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the off-scouring of all things. I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

1st Corinthians 4.9-16

Today’s reading from Saint Paul reminds us that we are called to respond to life in a different way than the world. When the world is reviled, the world reviles back. When the world is slandered, it slanders back. You get the point. We are called to change things up.

Saint Paul reminds us that Christians are called to respond with love, no matter how violent or unfair we are treated. I find myself reminding people almost daily that we cannot control what others say or day, or even think. We only control how we respond, and that must be with love.

Of course, Christ said it first. “Turn the other cheek,” (see Matthew 5.39) is the response of a Christian instead of slapping back. It isn’t that Christ likes to see us suffer. He most definitely does not like seeing us suffer. Our suffering is our choice in the purest thinking.

Does someone take our money? It is because we love our money that we suffer. Do we get fired from our job because of our moral standards? We suffer because we choose the job over our morals. Suffering is a matter of choice, even physical suffering.

This is the essence of what Saint Paul wants us to know today. We WILL be treated poorly by the world. As followers of Christ, our goal is to love God more than the world. If the world is taken from us, but we still have God, where is the suffering?

It is something to think about. If you feel slighted or punished by the world, ask yourself why you feel that way? Did the world take away something you loved? Do you love it more than God? Bullies take away things that are important to us. They can never take God, so we always win.

It doesn’t mean we don’t suffer pain and difficulties. I often write about the expected suffering as a Christian. Today’s blog isn’t about ‘not’ suffering, but acknowledging why we suffer. Most of the time we suffer because we choose to suffer. If we choose it, then it isn’t really suffering.

That is what makes us Christians. Physical pain causes discomfort, but history is filled with Christians who have experienced much more pain that a slap across the cheek. Every one of them endured the pain with dignity and love, many even forgiving those who killed them.

If we can find that level of faith and love, we will turn the world upside down for God, not for ourselves. Many more will see the freedom we experience in God’s love, and by God’s grace they will learn to love Him.

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