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“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)

When I visited the bird store in the spring, I told my ‘bird man’ that I wished to decrease the bird population in my yard over the summer since there is an abundance of natural food in supply for my feathered friends. He recommended that a specialized goldfinch thistle feeder might create the desired effect. These are designed so that the perches are above the small ports to accommodate the tiny seed. Since the birds who gather there literally have to hang upside-down when they eat, the only ones that can easily manage are little birds like Goldfinches and Chickadees. The larger birds become discouraged and go elsewhere. I must admit I was a little skeptical at first but nonetheless purchased one at a reasonable price with a gift certificate I had received. To my amazement – it has made a big difference, and we still get to enjoy the beauty of a few species who gather upside-down while feasting.

It is vividly clear that the world of these birds is not the only one presently upside down, as evidenced by the everyday news headlines. People hate when they should love, quarrel when they should be welcoming, fight when they should be peaceful, gossip when they should be silent, wound when they should heal, steal when they should share, and do wrong when they should do right. Our nation has an increasingly diminished vision of the Godly principles on which it was founded. Society says that what may normally be considered right might not always be true for everyone. Therefore, individuals can decide for themselves what is right and wrong. Society endorses the ability to intimidate those who believe differently than you. Society says that it’s okay to remove or destroy historical statues and art when someone considers them to be politically incorrect. In many parts of the world, society thinks it is appropriate to condemn, restrict, and even eliminate displays of faith in public places. Things that used to be looked upon as a reflection of historical value and significance are frequently considered wrong and not at all in step with today’s rationale. To a sinner, a righteous person is an oddity. To those who have no recognition of a higher power, a Christian’s values are eccentric and based on wishful thinking.

Jesus calls us to live the principles of a world which God has provided for the betterment of all persons. He had His own upside-down way of thinking. He told His followers that in His kingdom the last would be first (Matthew 19:30), the least would be the greatest (Luke 9:48), and the lost would be found (Luke 15:6,9,24)). The unusual lot that He called to be His apostles reflected his commitment to building this new Kingdom — a group made up of fishermen, a hated and outcast tax collector, a zealot, and a bunch of other ‘no-name’ guys from Galilee. Jesus provided a whole new definition of what a King should be.  He said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, even the ones who hate us. He tells us to forgive those who have hurt us. He tells us to pray for our enemies. He tells us to turn the other cheek. He tells us not to worry about the little day-to-day needs of life, that God will provide. He tells us to not depend on ourselves but instead to depend on God. He tells us to give our lives and our treasures away for others, even if they don’t appreciate it. He turned the world on its head, challenging us to do the same.

As we celebrate another anniversary of our nation’s independence, one must realistically ask how long the blessings and protection God has bestowed on this country will continue? We should take time to reexamine our values and the symbols for which we once stood. The U.S. Flag Code states: “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” Perhaps it’s time for us to acknowledge that the very condition of nationwide “dire distress” does exist from sea to shining sea. While we must always strive to live in obedience to the laws of man, we must do so only when we are not violating the Laws of God (Acts 5:29). As followers of Jesus, we must realize that being respectful doesn’t mean we must accept whatever society demands of us. When we apply this, only then will we be prepared to live upright in an upside-down world.

REFLECTION: In what ways might you reexamine the contrasts of Jesus’ teachings and apply them in your own life? Are there changes you should make in the way you think and act? How might you do a better job of encouraging others in the faith to not always listen to what the world is telling them?


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