The Christian’s Call: Troublemaking
Troublemaker! Turning the world upside down! Such were some of the ways that early believers were described in the Acts.
At one point Paul and Silas are reasoning with the Jews in Thessalonica across three Sabbaths and were successful in persuading a good number of them, some Greeks and “leading women” to Christianity. As the stranglehold of Judaism in the city started to slip, some Jews formed a mob, set the city in an uproar and went to looking for the evangelists.
But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here…” (Acts 17:6, NIV)
The ESV offers this for the latter phrase: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…” NASB: “These men who have upset the world have come here also…”
In Acts 24:5 (NIV) a man named Tertullus says to Felix concerning Paul: “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” The ESV says, alternatively, “this man is a plague” and the NASB translates it “we have found this man a real pest.”
The Greek word is loiMOS, which signifies a pestilent fellow, pest, plague.
I recently read where a commencement speaker utilized these two passages for her address to seminary graduates. To embrace the “troublemaker” and “real pest” descriptors one ought to understand a view of trouble and pestilence as the world understands it versus evangelism and life transformation as pleases the Lord.
For me, I like “turned the world upside down” best. Unholy paradigms need to be upended. It is an honor to do so, and an honor to be called names when it happens.
But note it well – it might also usher in a cross, or a beheading.