“These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also…”
We either haven’t been told, or have simply forgotten we were born into a world that is upside down.
The disciples didn’t turn the world upside down with the message of the gospel. They were turning it “right side up.” Jesus came to restore men to the place that Adam had before he sinned. That place of “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” and talking to God face to face. (Genesis 3:8)
Now that we’ve been born again, there isn’t a single thing about us, life and the world around us that can stay the same. What was at one time “upside down” is now being turned right side up. Or, it is safe to say, we are being made “upright.”
The brain is an amazing organ. Think about this; we here in the north see our world as being right side up; but have you ever wondered how the people in Australia can see their sky as being “up” when it is “down” from our perspective? I mean, how people who live on the underside of this planet can see anything as being “up” is a mystery to me. Yet, God has made our brains in a way that we automatically adjust to our surroundings.
It’s not that we necessarily know it is “up” we just see that it is and accept it. Maybe I’ve got too much time on my hands, but I do wonder about things like that.
The difficulty is however, not so simply solved when we are “translated into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:3) Not that the life of the believer is meant to be hard, not at all, Jesus said “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)
Our life in Christ is not meant to be hard and neither is it meant to be a burden. We simply do not realize that we’ve been translated (carried away) into a realm we are totally unfamiliar with.
It’s not by coincidence that the “Ghost writer” of scripture, the Holy Ghost, used the word “translated” in Colossians. We tend to think of language when it comes to translation. If I say “Auf wiedersehn” to you, until you had a translator you wouldn’t know that I’d just said “good bye.”
“Aloha” is typically thought of as “good bye” but shortly after I’d moved to Hawaii, I learned it also means “hello.” They get you coming and going. I don’t know if they are as glad to see me go as they were to see me come, but knowing me as well as I do, I can’t help but wonder how glad they were to see me leave!
The point is, we’ve been “translated” it is good and right that the Spirit used this word concerning us, we’ve been translated, and we’re in the kingdom! What creates the greatest difficulty is we now need to learn to think “right side up.” We are, because of Jesus finished work at Calvary in a relationship with the Father that is right side up, it’s our perceptions that are still upside down. Our brains may tell us the sky is “up” in America and it is still “up” even if we go to Australia, but it does it independently; whether we want it to or not.
The “brain” or more perfectly, the mind of the believer will never operate properly if it attempts to function independently. After all, a desire for independence is what started this whole “upside down” mess in the first place.
The word “translated” has been used, I believe, for another reason and with another application and since it has to do with language, let’s look at language. The words we use to communicate with some one; both with God and with man. But, I want to direct your thoughts not to the spoken word, but the written word.
The scriptures are also referred to as a “glass” which is the equivalent of our “mirror.”
When I look in the mirror and raise my left hand, my reflection will also raise “his” left hand. If I raise my cup of morning coffee with my right hand, “he” raises his coffee in perfect unison with me. In a mirror, I see myself as I truly am and although we, that is, me and the reflection of me, should be doing the exact opposite since we are facing opposite directions, “he” imitates me. I am not imitating him. I am the author of the action and “he” is the reflection of me and of what I am doing.
For all intents and purposes, the man in the mirror is “upside down” I am right side up.
Now we come to the “mirror” of the Word looking for a reflection too, not only of ourselves (which we do, whether we admit it or not) but more importantly, we’ll come to the Word with a desire to see Him and become a mirror for Him, we’ll reflect Him, but we will not be Him. Just as the man in the mirror is not “me” but a personification of me, he reflects me as I truly am.
But, there’s a problem. We forget that we still have the tendency to see things from the (disad-) vantage point of “upside down.” The translation of the relationship took place six hours one Friday, but the translation of our perceptions takes years.
The Word is right side up, but we look at it with “upside down” brains. In order for us to “rightly divide the Word of truth” we need to remember the scriptures are, to us, upside down. Just as man believed for centuries that the sun revolved around the earth, we do pretty much the same thing when it comes to the Word.
Now, I may stand in front of a mirror and see myself accurately, but now, take a book and hold it in front of the mirror and what do you see? Every letter of every word is backwards! It takes a great deal of effort to read those words. We can read them, but it’s just not the way we were taught. If we’d learned them backwards from our youth, then reading them in a mirror would not just be easy, it would be natural to us.
Keep in mind that the scriptures are that mirror and we are the ones who are backwards. The words we read seem “upside down” to us and it’s not us who are “upside down” for Jesus has restored us to a right relationship with the Father, ours and His. It’s our minds that need to be turned. The word “repent” literally means “to change one’s mind.”
You can’t change direction until your brain tells you to move left or right, but once your mind has been changed, your body will follow. As usual, we have it backwards. We tell people to “change direction” because our perception of “repent” is askew.
It’s our use of the language of the kingdom that causes us tremendous difficulty and more often than not it’s due to the fact that we believe that what a word meant before we were “translated” means the same thing now. We are translated, the Word has been translated into our language, but our minds need to be translated as well. This is one of the many wonderful applications of that word “wholeness.”
Now, if I go to China no one can say I am not “in China” and although that sounds silly, there are many who say that if we “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk” then we aren’t Christians. Well, as soon as I arrive (am translated) in China, I may not know the language or the customs, but it would be nonsense for any one to say “I’m not there.”
If I am to remain in this new country and learn to live among the people who have been there longer than I have, I will want to learn to communicate with them. Since there are millions of people in China it would be easier for me to learn their language than it would be to try and teach all of them mine. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Now, let’s carry this out even further and suppose I want an audience and a relationship with the Emperor of China but I don’t know where to find him. I can’t ask any one unless they understood my speech or I understood theirs.
Herein lays a great problem. They’ll hear a word that may sound something like one of theirs but will have an opposite meaning. Of course, since they assume they now know what I am saying, they’ll give me some instructions and as I listen I’ll hear some words that sound a lot like words I am used to hearing. What will happen?
I’ll ask “Where can I find the Ruler of your people?” and because they use a different language they’ll assume they understand me (somewhat) and their directions (counsel) may sound something like this; “Oh, you want to see the dancing chickens of Beijing?” and with hand gestures they’ll send me on my way.
Well, of course I’ll spend the afternoon amazed that any one could teach chickens to dance so gracefully, but I won’t be any closer to the Ruler of their people. Now, can I rightfully blame the Chinese for misleading me? Of course not, they speak the language of their kingdom, it’s me who’s “upside down.”
What could make this a worse situation than it already is?
Finding someone who spoke a little of my language. I would easily understand words spoken in my tongue and because of my desire and my “upside downness” I would “fill in the blanks” and assume I understand what I’m hearing.
Now, instead of seeing the Ruler of their people or gracefully dancing pre-KFC merchandise, I just might end up seeing a group of Sumo wrestlers auditioning for a spot on American Idol, or worse, trying out for a spot on “So You Think You Can Dance!”
Now, I’ve seen some things I’ve never wanted to see and I’m no closer to my goal than I was before. How am I to find my way to the Ruler of their people? I have to learn to communicate effectively with those who know Him and can tell me how to find him. It’s my language which must be changed, not theirs! I’m the “upside down” one, not them.
Language is an amazing thing. Our ability to talk is amazing. Air is forced from our lungs, passes through a part of our body and produces a single note or sound and a series of notes placed closely together form what we call a word. Simple enough.
The ears receive that sound of it (or the eye sees the form of it) and the brain immediately forms an image for us to see. If I write “Cat” you immediately had the cat of your choice spring up in your mind’s eye. You could see the cat but no one else can. You probably saw your cat or your favorite type of cat, but you did see a cat. But, what if I meant “lion” but used the word “cat?” Would we be seeing or saying the same thing?
We see basically the same thing, but one is much larger than the other and although we are almost “one” in that way, we are not. We are still two.
Well, if I initiated the conversation and it was me who had authored to topic on cats, then it would be reasonable to say that if I want you to see what I am saying, I cannot alter my word. In this case, you are the one who is “upside down” and because I really want you to communicate with me, it is your perception that must change. If I change what I’ve said, then you may relate to me, but you’ll never relate with me about things that concern me.
If I change my word, we’ll never “meet.” This alone may cause you to thank the Lord that He has said “I am the Lord, I change not” and “my word will never pass away.”
Not only will He not change and certainly has no need to, it is us who have been “translated” and all that remains is that we learn the language of the kingdom and since He does not change, we have the opportunity to learn the language of the King of kings. Most of us Christians speak a mixture of English/Chinese or (in our new language) we speak a mixture of carnal/spiritual.
We are not to “translate” the Word, except into our individual languages, but the Living Word, Jesus Christ must translate our minds if we are ever to communicate with Him and one another both meaningfully and effectively. It’s the mind that must be renewed, that place inside of us where the most meaningful of relationships can be experienced. (See Romans 12:2) Also, and just as vital is that we understand that it is the joy of the Spirit to be the One by whom we are renewed. (Titus 3:5)
Jesus said of the Spirit “He will teach you all things” (John 14:26) and what does a teacher do? They form our perceptions. Using words which are spoken to create an image inside of our minds. Remember? Cat?
A teacher has an image they want to “show” their pupils (disciples) and they do this with a single goal in mind, they are sure of what they want to say. Air, which in the Greek is “pneuma” and refers to the Spirit is brought up (raised up from within) and that air/Spirit moves across an organ of flesh (the Word became flesh) and creates a sound.
We hear the sound of it, but we cannot see it. Definitely see John 3:8!
We are told to not make “graven images” or in other words, God is bigger than we can grasp and we are not to live as if our perception(s) of Him are “set in stone.” We have eternity to get to know Him and that’s about how long it will take for us to get to know Him. But if our perception of Him is amiss, it’s only natural that our language will remain “upside down.”
If we see Him as being a God who somehow manages to tolerate us, our speech will betray us. Just as the girl said to Peter in Matthew 26:73, the way we talk will tell even the unsaved if we are “one of His” or not. But, if our world hasn’t been turned upside down, we may talk religiously, but it will be a mixture. Like the man who spoke some English and a lot of Chinese.
If we see Him as being a God who only loves us because of His Son, then we’ll use language which communicates that and more often than not, the hearers of the Good News will perceive that what we are saying is anything but good news.
Paul said “let your speech be always with grace.” We can tell others, convey to others that in our hearts and minds we see a God who has saved us by grace but if we aren’t sure of the image of God and His graciousness toward us, we will speak a blend of law and grace. Our stubborn refusal to accept His salvation apart from our works will say something, but it won’t be the “Word” of grace.
It is typically a mixture of works and grace.
Our world, the realm in which we live isn’t turned right side up, we are. Now all that remains for us to learn to do is to learn the language of the kingdom. There are few words in the bible that mean the same thing we learned before we were saved. But, there is an “upside” to this “upside down” world!
I may go to China to meet with the Emperor and desire a relationship with the Ruler of the people, but for us, the Ruler of the people met me and has taken me to His palace. I may benefit in matters of speech by hanging out with those people, but better by far for Him to teach me the ways of the kingdom and the language of the King!
That language is Grace.
I may be able to relate to people as we speak of obedience, but if I am not diligent in “hearing” I can easily be sent to see dancing chickens or Sumo wrestlers. I need to know that obedience is the result of love, but only He can tell me that and He’ll do it because I’m saved by grace, not so I can be saved by it.
I’ve been “right side up” for almost 26 years now and I’m still learning the language. There are many words I use which may help men relate to me, but they do nothing in helping me relate to our God.
Now that I’m translated, the Living Word, Jesus Christ is translating my mind to see Him. He is the Word made flesh!
He is not just the living Word; He is God’s final word! Learning His native tongue is all I need to do. I’m still in His kingdom, but what I really want to do is to be able to communicate with Him.
It’s no wonder He is full of grace and truth! I need both, but I’ll never understand the truth until I understand grace!
If “truth” lacks Jesus it may be true, but it will not be gracious.
If “grace” lacks Jesus it may be gracious, but it will not be true.
Want to learn the language of the kingdom? Well, don’t ask me, unless you like dancing chickens or Sumo wrestlers on American Idol. I’ll do what I can to point you in the right direction. Just grab your bible, read it upside down and you’ll see the Ruler of the people looking back at you in the mirror of the Word!