As I think through Christian history, I find it interesting that more often than not, the people God uses to change the world are those you least expect. Think about the early church: in 70 years they had evangelized the entire known world of that time.
One of my favorite passages that continually presses my life is in Acts 17. Paul is preaching in Thessalonica and a mob storms a house and drags away a man named Jason. Their accusation against him? “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Jason has harbored them … ” (Acts 17.6-7) In the eyes of the culture, Paul and the other believers had turned the world upside down!
But look at the people who were accused of doing so. Paul was short and tradition says he was ugly. The other disciples were accused by the religious leaders that they were “uneducated and untrained men … And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4.13). Many of their professions were seen as “low-end” by society. Not exactly the crew I would have chosen as world changers.
Last week we looked at the Butterfly Effect and how a single life might influence another which in turn may change the world (I highly encourage you to read the post). What I’d like to point out is that we cannot determine who in our path might be the one we influence that goes on to turn the world upside down. It might be our best friend, the rich lady down the road, the orphan boy in a faraway country, or the homeless man downtown.
So what if we allowed the Holy Spirit to use us to speak truth and pour the love of Jesus into every person we bumped into – no matter how long we had with them?
What if those long afternoon conversations with your family or close friends was used for God’s purposes? What about those few moments you have with the cashier at your grocery store?
Jesus had this mindset. Every person he came in contact with was seen as the most important person of His day. He didn’t rush by someone in order to do “more important things,” He viewed the world through the eyes of the Father and wanted to pour His life out for each person He met. Whether it was through healing a disease, preaching a sermon, casting out a demon, or embracing a child, Jesus was constantly investing in others and changing their lives. Those lives, in turn, had far reaching effects.
Jesus spent three years with His disciples and once filled with His Spirit at Pentecost, they went out and “turned the world upside down.”
Jesus spent three minutes (okay, not sure the length but less than a day) with a man in Gadarenes who was full of demons and after He cast them out, the man begged to go along with Jesus. “Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.’ And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled” (Mark 5.18-20). This unlikely man became an evangelist to a group of cities (Decapolis) because Jesus took notice of him, spoke truth, and changed his life.
Who is it that Jesus wants to touch through you? Who does He want you to speak to that He might use your lips to speak truth? Who is it in your life that you don’t know (yet) that you will meet later today that He wants to wrap your arms around and encourage through a hug?
Realize that every person you encounter is an opportunity for Jesus to pour Himself into. He wants to use your life as a vessel of His truth, a channel of His love, a demonstration of His power, and a picture of His life. We must be willing for Jesus to bleed, suffer, die, and live through us in order for the world to be turned upside down. Every person we see today is someone Jesus desperately wants to reach, embrace, and transform. Could we be His instruments in their lives? Could those same people go on to radically change the world?
Jesus is using you to create ripples in this world through the tiny encounters you have every day. Don’t take them for granted.
Question: who has caused ripples in your life? Share your story in the comments below.