How Hawaii Can Be Turned Upside Down

by Jan 13, 2016

How Hawaii Can Be Turned Upside Down

by Jan 13, 2016

As visitors to Hawaii always tell us, we live in the most beautiful place on earth. As the weatherman always tells us, we have the best weather on the planet. But take a quick glance beyond the natural beauty and tranquility we enjoy, and you see a hurting, broken society.

Think about it:

  • Many families in Hawaii are struggling to survive under an oppressive cost of living, seen by the fact that we have the highest percentage of people in America working more than one job.
  • Hawaii has the highest rate of homelessness in the nation. Last night, more than 1400 kids under the age of 13 slept outside.
  • Hawaii ranks first in the nation for meth abuse, and we have for a long time. Some estimates say that 10% of the people on Oahu are addicted to ice.
  • The rate of cocaine use among professionals in Hawaii doubled in 2015 compared to the year before.
  • We have thousands of refugees coming from Micronesia, their islands wrecked by atomic bomb testing. When they arrive in Hawaii they experience intense discrimination from people who arrived here a few years earlier than they did.

There’s no debate — we have major problems in Hawaii. We need the islands to be turned upside down. And the good news is, God is in the business of doing exactly that. In the first century, word spread across the Roman Empire about this group of people called Christians who had “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

So how did it happen? How did God bring so much transformation in such a short amount of time?

It’s explained in the very first words of Acts: “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach.” Acts is the second volume of a pair of books written by Luke. He says his first book, the Gospel of Luke, is the story of all that Jesus began to do and teach. So … what does that say about the second book, Acts? It’s the story of all that Jesus continued to do and teach. Even though Jesus takes off for heaven in the first ten verses!

The Roman Empire was turned upside down because Jesus was continually working. Just not in the flesh. He was working through his Holy Spirit sent into the lives of individual believers. Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

In other words, “It’s better for me to leave, because you only have a little bit of me right now. You can’t be around me all the time. You need to go to work. You need to go eat. And you need to go down and stand in line at Satellite City Hall for three hours to get your drivers license renewed. There are times when you you just can’t be with me! But if I ascend into heaven, then I can send my Spirit, and I can be with you every minute of the day — awake or asleep — for the rest of your life.

And when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, he had a specific purpose in mind: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Jesus turned the world upside down through people who were willing to let him leave physically so they have him even more present spiritually. People who were willing to let his Spirit guide their thoughts, actions, and words. People who were willing to risk and be bold witnesses to their family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. People who were willing to sacrifice and show countercultural love and compassion.

He can and will do the same in Hawaii today.