I was recently comforted by two verses in the bible where Paul exhorted his followers to live quiet and tranquil lives in all godliness and dignity (1 Tim.2:2) and where he instructed believers to be subject to the governing authorities (Rom. 13. 1-7). These verses made me feel able to reduce the pressure I was putting on myself to be a massive world changer. They took the pressure of me being the one to stand out for all my amazing deeds and making my mark on the world and made me feel like what I was about was just fine. And thankfully, by grace, I know that God accepts me just the way I am, whatever I accomplish.
However, in Acts 17: 6-7, Paul and his followers are accused of ‘causing trouble all over the world’ or in some bible versions ‘turning the world upside down’. So, knowing how Paul exhorted Christians to live and seeing how Paul had spent much time ‘reasoning’ with the Jewish people in Thessalonica, it seems in one sense, that these charges are exaggerated and false. Indeed, it was Paul’s accusers who were stirring up mob violence both in Thessalonica and Berea, where his teaching was more readily received. But there is another sense in which these charges were true, or at least ought to be true…the gospel message does turn the world upside down. It challenges and by its very nature is divisive. As Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). When the gospel is clearly proclaimed it draws a line in the sand. People cannot be neutral. So here, as everywhere Paul went, he stirred up controversy and divided people.
So, are we all called to be like PauI? I guess the answer is yes, if it means being committed to sharing the gospel. We may not of course all be gifted to preach the gospel in the same way that Paul was. We’re not all called to serve as missionaries in foreign lands. But we all are called to be fully committed to Jesus Christ. He commanded us all, not just missionaries and pastors, to seek first His kingdom and righteousness. What does total commitment to Christ and the gospel look like in a person who is not gifted as an evangelist or missionary?
It looks like being ambassadors! We are here to represent our King in the way we live our lives. The ‘Getting Fruity’ series we have been following at church is a challenge to the way we allow the Spirit to grow in us and produce Godly fruit – the best advert for Christianity. My daughter is an Ambassador at her University. She has been chosen to show off the University, to advertise it and extol its virtues for those who come to look around; to be an example of what a good student looks like and to help others who arrive at the University, eager and excited at their new life but not knowing what to expect or where to go. This is our role as committed Christians. We can’t be half-hearted ambassadors or lukewarm about our role. We should be a living testimony of what it is to be a Christian and willing to share or ‘advertise’ our faith and to help those newer to the faith. So, here is to living a quiet and tranquil life, alongside turning the world upside down as an ambassador of Christianity! (for me anyway…you may of course be called to be a Paul!).