“. . . Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD. . .” Jeremiah 9:24
As human beings who come into this world not of our own will, leave this world without our own consent, and live a life on this earth over which we have essentially no control, we certainly do like to glory in a lot of things.
We glory in our kids, our homes, our marriages, our looks, our abilities, our education, our skills, our jobs/careers/businesses, our money, our social circles, and the list goes on and on and on. Others glory in their religiousness or lack thereof. Many glory in their rejection of societal norms or their stand for this and that cause of the day.
We buy silicone straws and bring our own bags to the grocery store. We talk about our money-saving “life hacks” and fail-proof housekeeping schedules for a perfectly tidy home. We tell everyone else how to raise their kids and what correct childrearing looks like. We strive to look and act like a certain denomination because they’re more holy, or avoid others because their standards are “too low”.
We associate ourselves with groups and missions because we find something in it to glory in. Many of these “causes” end up taking an inordinate amount of our time, energy, and tangible resources because we take pride in being associated with them.
Yet, these things leave us feeling so empty, always looking for something better and more fulfilling that can satisfy that hollow place inside of us. Somehow, nothing seems to do the job. Nothing is quite glorious enough.
What makes the difference?
If you read about what happened after Jesus returned to heaven, you will find in the pages of the book of Acts an angry riot. The outcry of men against the Christians in a city called Thessalonica rings from the pages. In their rage they said, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also…” (Acts 17).
Wrap your mind around that, will you? “These that have turned the world upside down“.
Who were these people?
Earlier in the book of Acts, we see another angry group targeting the followers of Christ. Here the targets of the outrage were two of the apostles, Peter & John. These men were not well educated or significant in society. In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested. They were told to give an account of where they received their authority to preach the gospel of Jesus. They spoke boldly the truth, and this was the audience’s response:
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Unlearned here indicates that they were largely illiterate, and ignorant indicates their base social status. They were illiterate nobody’s, but they knew a Somebody Who changed it all. Knowing Christ was what set them apart, not ornate robes and headwear, like the Pharisees. Not extensive education, like the Scribes. Not wealth and power, like the politicians.
A great example of this difference is the twelfth apostle, Paul. In the first letter of Paul’s to the church at Corinth, Paul makes the statement, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified...” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Paul had everything going for him, and he didn’t glory in those things. The significance for Paul was not in what he knew, but in Who he knew.
How can I turn the world upside down?
For starters, the world that was known to the men who walked with Jesus was definitely a lot smaller than the world we know today. There really wasn’t a global community, and it took a lot more work to get the Gospel out to all nations than it does in 2022. But that isn’t what I want us to focus on.
No, what I want us to direct our attention to here is how they were able to make such an impact.
It wasn’t anything they had or didn’t have. It wasn’t their place in society or the success of their careers.
Knowing Jesus changed them, and others saw the difference.
You and I can’t know Jesus like they did because He isn’t on this earth anymore. He no longer walks among us in flesh and blood, and unlike Thomas we can’t touch His hands and feet to assure our faith in seasons of doubt.
BUT – we can pick up our Bibles any time of day or night, and hear the voice of God through those pages. We have access to study tools and the Holy Spirit indwelling us so that we can discern the Word of God every time we open those pages.
We don’t have to wait for Jesus to come to our town to hear from Him or see Him work miracles. We do get to participate in ministry with Him daily by the power of the Spirit as He leads us into truth.
It does matter.
The world may never know your name or appreciate the calling of God on your life, and that’s okay. Why? Because as you serve God in the capacity that He has given to you, and get to know Him more fully each day as a disciple of Jesus, God will use you to change the lives of the people around you.
God can and wants to use you to turn someone’s world upside down as you glory alone in knowing Him.
“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24, emphasis added; see also 1 Corinthians 1:22-31)
When you boil it down, this means that your sacred time does matter. Whether it’s at the kitchen table with dirty dishes on the counter, at work on your lunch break, or while you wait for the mechanic to finish your oil change, it makes a significant impact. Every moment you spend letting God work in you while you do the work of hiding His Word in your heart, is transforming you.
Glory in knowing Him, and see how the world turns on its head.