My current favorite way of thinking about the good news of the Gospel is in terms of right side up vs ǝpᴉsdn uʍop. This is something is often lost in our contemporary understanding of the Gospel, because we generally do not see the things that Jesus said in the revolutionary way that his audience did. Those of us who have grown up in the church are used to the hearing the words of Jesus. I’ve been hearing the Words of Jesus my whole life, but his audience’s lives would have been turned ǝpᴉsdn uʍop with his words.
It’s hard as a church to get some of the radicalness of Jesus’ words. Because we have (rightly) made them such a large part of our culture and of our individual lives that they often no longer seem radical. But if we really want to get a glimpse of the ways in which Jesus’ words must have turned the 1st century world ǝpᴉsdn uʍop we have to try to see things through their eyes.
The Good Samaritan
The term “good-samaritan” has become such a part of our culture that we even have “good-samaritan laws”. Laws to legally protect those sculpture by Dennis Oppenheim that give aid to others in need. But in the story becoming a part of our culture we have lost the shock of the original version that Jesus told.
You’ve probably heard a pastor preach this text and explain that the Samaritans were despised by the Jews, and yet it was a Samaritan that stopped to help the robbed and dying Jew. The scandal was that the loathed and unclean one is the one who was the example of the good neighbor. Clarence Jordan tried to reclaim the shock of the original by retelling the story in The Cotton Patch Version of Luke and Acts. It’s a profound retelling of the story written in the 1960‘s that builds on racial tension to reclaim the scandal of Jesus’ words. (read it at http://sammywilliams.wordpress.com/2010/07/12/quotes-from-clarence-jordan/)
What I want to challenge you with is to spend some time putting yourself in the sandals of Jesus’ audience. Look for the ways in which their world was turned ǝpᴉsdn uʍop. Then pray and think about the ways in which Jesus might be calling from the pages of history and scripture to turn your world ǝpᴉsdn uʍop. Experience the vertigo of the Gospel and you will have a far clearer idea of how Jesus calls you to live out our faith.