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Love Removes Blind Spots to Christ

How to Upset the World 

In July, 2017, Tim Ross was preaching a sermon on evangelism, based on Acts 16 and 17.  Acts 17:6 stood out to him:  “’Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,’ they shouted, ‘and now they are here disturbing our city, too.’”  Tim found that the word trouble in Greek meant “to upset, to disturb or derange completely.”  He latched on to the concept that the gospel upsets our lives by turning everything upside down, or more accurately, right side up.  

Tim says that all believers are all called to be “upsetters,” and defines the term:  “An upsetter is a person who has been upset by the overwhelming love of Jesus and upsets others.”  He quickly dispels the notion that upsetters are religious zealots, looking to incite anger and controversy, like the many modern-day protestors we see in the news.  On the contrary, in his construct, upsetters love people, rely on the Holy Spirit, love life, do good, and disturb the “piece” (meaning the piece of someone’s life which blinds them to Christ).   In doing so, we upset the world.  

As an example of loving life, Tim shares how he got through a dark period in his own, and how he found the freedom to love God and others again.  At the tender age of eight, he was molested by a neighbor, (as was his younger brother, Myles, though neither knew about the other for years).  Neither boy told his parents, and Tim feared that his dad would kill the man.  The abuse went on for roughly seven months, and turned a normally joyful little boy into a fearful, depressed one.  Later, when he was 12, Tim was exposed to pornography, which became a habit, and eventually grew into an addiction.  When Tim was 19, his mother found him watching porn late one night, and he was undone with embarrassment and shame.  He decided to finally confess to his parents what had happened when he was eight, and how it had tainted his and Myles’ lives.  With tears in her forgiving eyes, his mom revealed that she, too, had been sexually abused as a little girl.  Their dad then shared that he had been molested by a comic book store owner when he was just five years old.  The family secrets were all out in the open, which started the healing.  Tim came to Christ six months later, and after many years of counseling to get to the root of his addiction, he was able to love God, himself, life, and others like never before.

When it comes to upsetting the world by doing good and loving others, Tim recounts a situation at his church a few years ago.  An LGBTQ group let Embassy City Church know that they were coming to picket and protest on a particular Sunday.  When the day came, everyone at the church was on high alert, and the security team was prepared to defend the people and property.  As the service was about to begin, Tim asked one of the security guards where the protestors would be gathering.  Then he asked, “Can we get some Danishes and coffee for them?”  The guard was dumbfounded.  Tim explained to him and others, “The best way to break down this wall of hostility is to show them how much we love them.  Love was Jesus’s motivation to upset the world, and it should be ours as well.  Only love can burst the mindset of hate.”  As things turned out, it rained that morning and the protestors never showed up.  But the lasting effect of his words on the staff was profound.  Despite the fact that the group didn’t come, Tim says that some people from the largest LGBTQ church in Dallas started attending Embassy City church because they feel welcome and say they’re getting to know God better, which delights him.    

A Multi-ethnic Congregation

Embassy City Church, like most, is multi-generational, but unlike most American churches, it is also multi-ethnic.  In fact, the church’s zip code is in one of the top ten most racially-diverse areas in the country.  Tim says the Embassy City congregation is 60% black and 40% non-black, including white, Hispanic, Southeast Asian, and Micronesian believers, and there are many interracial couples.  Tim says the wide diversity has made him a better pastor, and calls it “a picture of heaven on earth.” 

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