17:5 But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. 7 Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.” 8 And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things.
This morning I suddenly stepped back from this story and saw how crazy it is. Why is the reaction so intense? Why do people still today fight so intensely over religion? Why can't people live and let live? What is it about religion specifically that gets people so wound up? I was raised in a culture of silence on the topics of religion and politics. Even in my own church all I have to do is introduce an idea that runs against the grain of conventional thinking and the tension level instantly rises.
This doesn't usually happen with other topics.
Think about this story. Paul is practically on the other side of the world relative to Jerusalem and He's teaching from the scrolls these Jews profess to believe yet their reaction to his teaching is to gather up a mob and attack the house where they think he is staying. When Stephen taught the same thing in Jerusalem they stoned him to death and Paul was there taking part in his murder. The hunter has now become the hunted.
Look at what those opposed to the idea of Jesus being the Messiah say: "Those who have turned the world upside down have come here too."
In the recent past science has really been re-evaluating the composition of the earth's core. For a long time because of volcanoes we thought the core was molten lava. Even when I was in school that was what the textbooks said. However back in 1936 a female (probably why she was taken less seriously) scientist Inge Lehmann discovered using seismic readings that there had to be something solid at the earth's core beyond the layer of lava.
That theory is gaining traction. Is it true? Who knows? But what it is not doing is turning the world upside down. No mobs have formed. No one is going to get hanged. But wait a minute. Some of you will recall that when Galileo theorized that the earth was a sphere and no flat there was a revolt and he ended up in hot water. Why the difference then? Because then religion was involved. The Church had taken the stand (based on some flimsy Bible verses taken out of context and on the back of conventional thinking) that the earth was flat. To say otherwise was to challenge the authority of the Church. That's why Galileo faced some big waves.
Religion makes people lose their minds because it's all about control. People are heavily invested in formulas they think guarantee them the destiny they want. Whether or not the core of the earth is lava, solid steel, or green cheese has no impact on my life now or my destiny. Messing with religious ideas does.
But what if we took a different approach? What if we admitted our knowledge of all things is really limited? I mean even gravity is a theory. What if we humbly let sacred texts speak against our thinking if that's where the evidence leads? What if we trusted that our destiny is not tied to our limited theories of God and/or science? What if we just determined to live and let live?
It's a crazy idea but not as crazy as hunting and killing people because they see things differently. It's not like Christ followers were demanding things be see their way. It's not like they were forcing anyone to think as they thought.
All Jesus did was heal and help people and they killed Him for it. Clearly there is something much deeper going on. Such reactions are not normal. That alone should all cause us to pause and think about why...
Mother bears only attack when you get close to her cubs and Satan only gets angry when we get close to the Truth.
Jesus - there is just something about that name.