"And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city authorities, shouting, 'These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.' " Acts 17:6
In the book, "The Insanity Of God," the author tells of his visiting China, where he spent considerable time with many of the leaders of the house church movement. He asked them this question; "If I were to visit your home communities and talk with the non-believing families, friends,and neighbors of the members of your house churches, and asked, 'Who are these people - what can you tell me about them?' what would they say? He got a number of powerful responses, but the one that stood out was this; 'Our neighbors would probably say, 'Those are the people who raise the dead.' " With that, others around the table began to share stories from their own fellowships. Stories of healings, miraculous answers to prayer, of supernatural occurrences. They shared that which could only be explained by the miraculous activity of God in their midst. And yes, those stories included instances of the dead being raised back to life. An unbelieving culture took notice. They were the people who raised the dead....I wonder; what is it that the unbelieving culture that surrounds us has to say about the church in their midst? Those are the people who offer a great performance every week? Those are the people who provide a warm, friendly atmosphere? Those are the people who provide a wealth of stuff to keep our children occupied and entertained? It's not that this all bad, but how many of them can say, "Those are the people who raise the dead?" How many of them see us as those in who God is so active, so mighty, that He is turning the world, the community, the culture, upside down through them?
Jesus said that we would not only do the works that He did, but that we would do even greater ones. To what extent is that happening here in the west? Francis Chan asked that if those who were part of the first century church were to attend one of our usual "worship" services, what would they see? "People gathering in a room, listening/watching several sing and to one speaking, and then everyone drives home in their car?" Are we walking in a supernatural power that the world may reject, but cannot deny? If we are, why do we have to spend so much time trying to figure out a way to reach (dare I say impress?) an unbelieving world? Paul walked, lived, and ministered in the power of a risen life. So did the early church. They didn't give rise to indifference and irrelevance. They were not perfect, and they had flaws, but they lived in the power of His Name and Life. So can we. Jesus made that clear. But do we?
Vance Havner once wrote of how the church in the west has allowed itself to become intimidated by all the competing sources vying for people's attention. He said that the first century church was never bothered by any of that. He writes, "They had a robust, world shaking power....If we recovered that we would leave our little hot-chocolate huddles in church basements and give the world today a demonstration that would make its little affairs look like firecrackers beside atom bombs." In Russia, China, Africa, God is moving in just such a way. All the powers of the darkness unleashed against His Church cannot quench what He is doing in its midst. That same mighty God is in our midst as well....but do we notice? If we don't, how will the unbelieving culture around us? For too long have I, have we, used worldly "firecrackers" to get its attention. May we, as His people, seek His unleashed power and presence. May we be a people who once more turn the world upside down. May we be "those people who raise the dead."