CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Are You Among the Troublemakers?

Nov 20, 2017

If you are a Christian, you should be causing trouble. It is that simple. If you are not causing trouble, you may need to ask if you are really a Christian. “What?” you ask. Yes it is true. Simply read the book of Acts and see for yourself. Here we had real deal Christians, and everywhere they went they caused trouble.

Still don’t believe me? Well, try reading the book and see for yourself. And especially consider what we read in Acts 17:6 where it says the disciples “caused trouble everywhere”. Did you get that? Wherever they went, they caused trouble!

Of course they did not go out of their way to cause trouble, to be obnoxious, or to pick a fight. They were not seeking to be troublemakers. They were however seeking to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and for doing that, they continually got into trouble.

That is simply the way it works: dare to faithfully and obediently serve our Lord, and trouble will ensue – guaranteed. That was certainly true when Jesus walked the earth, it was true for his disciples, and it has been true for 2000 years now.

Given that I am again reading through the book of Acts, let’s return to it. One thing I find so interesting is how much things follow on from what we read about in the gospels. For example, over the years I have kept a record of all the times in the gospels Jesus was hated, caused trouble and division, offended people, and rocked the boat.

It happened all the time. That was simply the way it was: you either loved the guy or hated the guy. There was no neutrality or middle ground with Jesus. He was, as John Stott famously put it, “Christ the Controversialist”. I recently wrote about this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/11/07/praise-controversy-dogmatism/

But when I read the book of Acts I find the very same thing happening in regard to his disciples. They too were always getting into trouble. They too were always causing division. They too were always causing an uproar. They too were controversial.

And how could they not be? They were following in the footsteps of their master. They were striving for Christlikeness. As a result, they rocked the boat, got a lot of people upset, and ending up causing trouble everywhere – just like it says in 17:6.

Again, read it for yourself. Christians are to above all be biblical. And if you want to be biblical, you have to read the Bible once in a while! Actually, you should be reading it every single day, along with serious study of it as well. Nothing less will suffice.

So just what do we find in Acts in this regard? It is actually much easier to list all the chapters when the disciples were NOT causing trouble than when they were! Consider this salient fact: every single chapter in Acts except for five mention all the persecution, dissension and division the disciples caused.

Those five chapters are these: 1, 3, 15, 25, 27. And what we find there is revealing:
1 – Jesus leaves; Judas is replaced
3 – A brief healing account, then a speech by Peter
15 – The Jerusalem council
25 – Paul before Festus and Agrippa
27 – Paul’s sailing adventure

So the only place we might expect an account of trouble would be in the opening verses of chapter 3. Otherwise we had speeches being given and the like. So the bottom line is this: in almost all the accounts of apostolic activity in the book of Acts, there is always mention of trouble, of strong reactions, of social upheaval.

This is simply the normal way the early disciples operated. They expected trouble and they got it. That was the normal Christian life. A life free of controversy, turmoil, division and trouble would never have occurred to them. It was just not part of the apostolic play book.

As I say, the evidence here is so overwhelming that it would become tedious to list all the passage where we read about such things occurring. As just one example therefore, let me mention a few verses found in chapter 17. We find at least five occasions there of trouble, division and turmoil erupting because of the apostolic message:

Acts 17: 4-6 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 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 the disciples “turned the world upside down” (KJV); they “caused trouble everywhere” (GNB)
Acts 17:8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.
Acts 17:13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up.
Acts 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”

All up I have listed thus far around 40 different examples of this in the book of Acts. By comparison, in my list on how Jesus shook things up, I have 63 entries listed from the gospels – and of course there would be some duplication there with the four gospels.

As mentioned, none of this should surprise us. The disciples simply continued what Jesus began to do. In fact, we find this rather interesting thing in Acts 1:1: “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.”

Luke, who wrote both the gospel and Acts, says in his first book (the gospel of Luke) he had written about what Jesus began to do. He now says in his second book (Acts) we will now find a continuation of this. But Jesus is taken up in the clouds in vv 10-11. So who continues his work?

His disciples obviously! And by extension we do as well. We continue what Jesus started. So just like Jesus, and just like the early disciples, we should expect a certain reaction when we stand strong and proclaim biblical truth. So, how does your Christian life stack up in comparison?

If the normal Christian life, as evidenced by Jesus and the disciples, is one of controversy, of commotion, of ruckus, of division, and of trouble, all that should characterise our lives as well. If not, we should be asking ourselves why. Are we living the normal Christian life or are we not?

As things heat up, it is time to choose. Will we stand with Christ and the apostles and stir things up a bit, or will we wimp out, seek to please men and try to live an uneventful life? Your call. It is either one or the other.

[1211 words]

12 Responses to Are You Among the Troublemakers?

  • Bill thanks for this article. It comes close to home at the Saturday Christian outreach in the Melbourne CBD and it is our experience most weeks. Opposition comes from people’s reaction to the three tables we set up which includes banners and tablecloths showing a Muslima and Middle Eastern people. Trouble comes in the form of drunks, demon possessed, drug affected, abject hate for Christians or misunderstandings over the purpose of the ministry. Last Saturday was the worse kind of opposition. A man calling himself a ‘Christian’ felt it was his ministry to condemn any Christians he comes across by reading Scripture out aloud and causing a scene. I’m at the Swanston St Bourke St table. He stood silently looking at the table and I tried engaging him. Big mistake. He started condemning me saying I was not forgiven reading from Matthew 23. I rebuked him telling him he was not speaking by the Holy Spirit and told him to leave. I thought he had until he later berated me for what I was not preaching on, sin. Later he verbally attacked another team member which escalated into a shouting match. Within minutes half a dozen police flooded the area and one of our team members was targeted as one of two ‘troublemakers’. Thankfully the police saw into the situation eventually and stayed until this man went on his way. I learned later in the day he had harassed the other two tables also. It seemed he was being motivated by ‘religious spirits’. He had no sense of emotional expression as he engaged us and certainly no joy whatsoever. This kind of incident gives Christianity a bad name and threatens the ministry from being shut down. The fact we can still operate in today’s anti-Christian atmosphere is a miracle in itself. Blessing to all, Keith Lewis.

  • Yes, we’re not meant to be people pleasers! We’re meant to be God pleasers.

  • Turning the world upside down is certainly the epitome of the power structure of the kingdom of God, where the first shall be last, and the Lord of all came not to be served but to serve [Mark 10:42-45]. ‘Overturnings ‘ will only continue until the One whose right it is comes [Ezekiel 21:27 (ASV)].

  • Thanks Bill – Melinda Jane T (Trouble-Maker) herese Rau-Wig…
    Love it!

  • Trouble makers are those who speak out against:
    False Prophets
    Prosperity Gospel
    Youth Centred Churches
    Worship of Man-made Gods (eg. A god who doesn’t send anyone to Hell)
    Pastor Worship
    Immorality in the church
    Unfortunately the list goes on.
    How far we have fallen.

  • To be honest…I’m thinking that Australia is now an anti-Christian nation and it may be Gods time to get people to “Go into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature” while it is day for the night cometh”…..it could be “Come out from among them” time. Lay up treasures in Heaven people. Lord help us all…Give us wisdom…help us choose Your will and ways.

  • Another quality insight into the surrounding culture Bill. I believe if a majority of Church leadership inc their denominations started teaching and preaching on critical issues effecting society such as SSM, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, porn, gender fluidity etc etc to the flock we would see some positive changes over time.
    The so called Christian yes voters lays case for the need to be educated not only in the Word but also enacting their faith into action to stand and speak up when the time calls for it. Fence sitters are cowards who deserted the frontline battle when most needed!

  • Dear Bill;

    Thank you for the reminder. I have just written to the ABC causing trouble [ha ha].

    On the Breakfast show this morning they had a segment about premature births and how they have increased and the long term effects on these little ones.

    The so called ‘expert’ in discussing the reasons for premature births mentioned ‘previous cervical surgery’. She had probably been well warned not to mention that some women had had multiple abortions before they decided to carry a baby full term so as not to upset some viewers.

    I am not saying abortion is the only reason for premature births or that all women who give birth prematurely have had abortions. There are of course other reasons like obesity and diabetes which has also increased. However, I wrote to the ABC making the point that we can’t kill 1 million unborn babies every year without there being a back lash. Therefore the fact that premature births have increased is no coincidence and easy abortions must also contribute to the increase.This fact has also been well researched and documented that abortion can lead to future premature birth. It is commonsense anyway.

    I also said it was their duty as a government funded media outlet to report ALL the facts not just the ones that suit them.

    I also said that not everyone at 81 has Alzheimers and some of us expected quality journalism not half the facts

  • The difference between the communities in Acts, and the West now is: The West has heard the Gospel and largely rejected it. It has become apostate! Recently Australia committed its apostasy to paper, in the recent homo marriage ballot. I suppose the YES people, think that Lord Jesus and his teachings cramp their freedom and right to indulge in unlimited fornication, promiscuity and sexual deviancies of all kinds and types and also their right to experience all manner of sexual diseases brought about by this behaviour. We must keep fighting of course, but it looks ominous to me. Apostasy in the Old Testament brought severe punishment. GOD give AUSTRALIA ‘Godly grief, that leads to repentance and salvation’. Before it is too late.

  • Christians know we are sinners like unbelievers, but Christians know we’ve been forgiven by Christ when we repent of our sins and follow him as our Lord and saviour. The Australian laws such as the Marriage Act is suppose to detect, prevent and or criminalise harmful behaviours and practices in order to protect the public and society from harm. It is obvious that the Australian parliament won’t be regulating (controlling) a man-woman “one flesh” marriage as same-sex partners can’t consummate their marriage unless the meaning of marriage is falsified. However, it will be regulating (controlling) a sexual relationship and living arrangement between any 2 people for government marriage benefits such as a sex worker and their client. The “Harlot marriage” and this will come into conflict with the NSW regulated prostitution practice.

    When any Christian will rejects the “Harlot marriage” or a deregulated civil registered marriage because of the falsification to the Marriage Act, Family Law Act – no fault divorce, marriage registry, civil marriage certificate and public wedding ceremony, then they should expect heaps of conflict such as “only a legitimate marriage is real.” There are many Australians who believe in what ever man-made ideas get put into the Marriage Act must be the truth and so this makes it a genuine legitimate marriage. However, they have rejected the truth of “one flesh” marriage in the Bible, so they only have created a falsified legitimate marriage. What are the harmful behaviours and practice is the falsified Marriage Act regulating (controlling)? The “Harlot marriage” is the real “marriage equality” as no one is allowed to discriminate against any type of sexual behaviour (sex worker) nor practice (prostitution) due to the human right for self-determination as this would be classified as mistreatment which deserves punishment.

  • Yep. I have just been to a marriage coalition meeting. I asked why the health repercussions of homosexuality and the consequent burden to the taxpayer were not being addressed. There was silence. I was told that focus groups had decided that these things were not to be addressed in the campaign. I do understand the difficulty (the ACL has already been bombed) so I then ran it by a medical doctor. He stated,
    ‘Well it’s a hard sell.’
    ‘The truth, you mean?’
    ‘Well’, he continued ‘You would be implying that homosexuals are prone to disease and lead miserable lives prone to suicide, depression, alcohol abuse and drug taking.’
    ‘They do, don’t they?’
    ‘Um, yes.
    If we had campaigned on the health consequences we may only have got 20% of the vote,’ he continued.
    ‘Or maybe we may have got 60% of the vote?’
    ‘Hmmmm…’
    We decided that the best people to tell the medical truth to the Australian public was a group of doctors. As this is very unlikely to be the AMA, it would need to be another group of doctors. However I understand the difficulty here as they could be sued or lose their job.
    It seems that political correctness is more important than the lives of our young people.
    I keep trying. . .maybe I planted a seed.
    Revelation 21 verse 8 says nothing good about the cowardly.

  • Quite timely and helpful. I am always in trouble for sharing hard truth. Where do a lot of the repercussions from? “Christians.”

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