The World Upside Down
by Burk Parsons
It’s hard to believe that it was nearly a decade ago that we witnessed the turn of the third millennium. If you recall, on New Year’s Day several network TV stations featured live coverage from around the world. It was an international spectacle with an estimated viewing audience of more than one billion worldwide. With great intrigue I watched as each culture welcomed the new millennium in its own way according to the customs of its heritage. Fireworks, music, singing, dancing, parades- — all in celebration of the new millennium. While 300,000 gathered in Auckland, New Zealand, for a performance of Handel’s Messiah, people on the central tropical Pacific island of Kiribati chanted in the Gilbertese language: “Let all the world be joined with us to greet the new millennium.”
Having traveled to many parts of the world, I have had the unspeakable privilege of witnessing how Christians in different cultures worship the Lord. What’s amazing, however, are not the differences among the world’s cultures in worship and ministry, which certainly exist, but the astonishing similarities in content, method, and philosophy of ministry. This, of course, is due in part to the profound influence of Western missionaries, who still account for nearly fifty percent of the world’s missionaries. Nevertheless, the similarities exist primarily because we are reading the same Book. We worship the same Lord; we are indwelled by the same Spirit; we share the same faith, the same baptism, and the same hope as we eagerly await and hasten the coming Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:12).
Therefore, when we gather together for worship on the Lord’s Day, we are joining our hearts and minds with believers from all over the world as we prepare for that great day when we will join together coram Deo, before the face of God, falling on our faces, proclaiming, “Let all Christians from around the world join with us to greet our Savior Jesus Christ.” In our worldwide witness, we are bearing witness to the undeniable reality that the good news of Jesus Christ has turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).