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Why Be Upset

Why Be Upset

Editor’s note: Tim Ross, pastor of Embassy City Church in Irvine, Texas, has a popular podcast called “The Basement with Tim Ross” that you may have heard. His stated mission is “to turn people’s expectations upside down and leave them right side up.” Enjoy this excerpt from his new book Welcome to the Basement.


Upside Down

So we’re talking about living a life that’s been overturned, turned upside down by the power, the presence, and the love of Jesus Christ. And, because of that, how you can use that life to turn the world upside down and bring more people to the Basement. But before we rush into anything, I want to take the time to break this down a little. Let’s start with Paul and Silas.

Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.
But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”
The people of the city, as well as the city council, were thrown into turmoil by these reports. So the officials forced Jason and the other believers to post bond, and then they released them. Acts 17:1–9

If you pick up the New King James Version or the English Standard Version (or if you grew up reading the King James Version like I did, which just sticks in my memory), it says Paul and Silas have turned the world “upside down.” But the word in Greek — the language the book of Acts was originally written in — literally means “to upset.” Instead of “caused trouble” in verse 6, that phrase could be translated, “they caused the world to be upset, and now they are here disturbing our city, too.”

But... why be upset? Why would you want to live your life turned upside down? Who wants to do that — live in an entirely different way than you’re living right now? Who wants to go to the Basement initially? Aren’t we all trying to make it to the top?

I’m a bit of a literalist, so I love definitions — a lot. Just in case you’re not a nerd like me, I want to give you the definition of “upset” so you have the necessary context for the coming pages.

Upset (v.): 1. to overturn, to destroy the power of, to overthrow, to defeat, or to vanquish. 2. to disturb, or derange completely; to put out of order, to throw into disorder.

The definition in dictionaries always goes on to give a few examples, like upsetting a system, a mechanism, or an apartment, or defeating a more formidable opponent in war, politics, or sports, as we talked about already (see, nerds do rule the world).


Well, truth is that there are people all over the world who somehow made a commitment to have their lives turned upside down — even me. I came to a revelation that I was not living my life the way I should be. I was determined to make it to the penthouse, but through Scripture and through an understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I found out what so many others — to the tune of more than two and a half billion people (by most recent records) — have discovered: that my life should not be lived the way I want it but the way that He wants me to live it. This threw the way I’d lived my whole life up until that point into chaos and disorder until I landed in the Basement.

Look back at the italicized statement in that quote from Acts 17 for just a second. I wonder if the Jews in that city had any idea how wildly exaggerative and unintentionally prophetic their words were. Paul and Silas hadn’t turned the whole world upside down — they’re in freaking Thessalonica. It’s not like the Jews in this city were getting letters from the tip of Latin America... it’s been only thirty years since Jesus’ death. You’re telling me Paul and Silas did a lap around the whole world — mostly walking — and made it back to this tiny city? Suuuuure...

Come on. Stop.

That being said, it is a wildly exaggerative and unintentionally prophetic comment for that moment. That now, over two thousand years later, what they said out of their melodrama is still happening —  all over the world.

  • The gospel is still invading people’s cities and turning lives upside down with the message, love, and hope of Jesus Christ.

It’s happening in every city. In every country. In every tribe. In every language. Every day.

That a couple of angry Jewish guys could make a wild statement that was both untrue and true at the same time... Man, I just think God has a sense of humor!

Listen, I know there are a lot of people who might put this book down right now. If living their life for Jesus means they have to make hard lifestyle choices and changes in their habits, the places they go, and the people they spend time with — not only is that something they’re not really into, that’s the last thing they want. They are on their way to the penthouse and their minds will not be changed; they will not be stopped!

But can I challenge you to stick around for a moment? [In this book] I want to give you what I believe are my top three reasons why you should be upset and why you should give permission to God to come in and turn your life — your everything — upside down.

Excerpted with permission from Welcome to the Basement by Tim Ross, copyright Tim Ross.

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Your Turn

Is your life upside-down? Have you let God direct your choices and your movements so that it’s completely different from what you planned? What might happen if you did? ~ Devotionals Daily