It’s a Topsy-Turvy World

by Dale Reeves

Story Pastor


Webster’s Dictionary defines “topsy turvy” as “upside down; with the top or head downward; in utter confusion and disorder.” That would describe the World Cup soccer we are watching these days. A few weeks ago, in the biggest upset in World Cup history, Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina in the first round of group play. Argentina, led by its superstar Lionel Messi, is one of the tournament favorites and hadn’t lost a contest since June 2019—a run of 36 incredible matches. Saudi Arabia, ranked 51st in the world (between Qatar, who’s hosting the World Cup, and Greece), scored twice in five chaotic minutes early in the second half to record the shocking upset.


No team captains for the countries’ contingencies wore the rainbow “One Love” armbands after the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) announced they would receive a yellow card, not just the typical fine, for wearing unapproved armbands this World Cup. The pro-LGBT armbands were, in part, a protest against the host country Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. Iranian soccer players refused to sing their national anthem in a show of solidarity with those protesting in their home country. Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp reportedly threatened to “torture” Iranian players’ families if the team refused to sing the national anthem again.


Other topsy-turvy results of the World Cup included perennial powerhouse Germany (a four-time World Cup champion) losing to Japan, Japan losing to Costa Rica, Japan besting Spain with a hugely controversial goal, then Germany not advancing to the Round of 16 for the second straight World Cup competition. After playing both England and Wales to a tie, the United States defeated Iran 1-0 to advance to the next round for the first time since 2014. They will play the Netherlands today in the Round of 16.


Shutdowns and Shopping

Meanwhile, China is combatting another round of COVID lockdown protests in the same way it fights the virus itself—with smothering force. An apartment fire in the Xinjiang region killed ten people, and video suggests the lockdown measures hampered emergency services. The event served as a catalyst for protestors, angered by reports that residence doors are being welded shut or exits blocked as part of COVID quarantines. Demonstrators took to the streets in Shanghai and Beijing, chanting, “Step down, communist party! . . . Don’t want Covid test, want freedom!” in an unprecedented uprising in China. Police have unsuccessfully attempted to quell the protests by bussing away protestors and using pepper spray on the crowds.


And, while we in America complain about the high cost of gasoline and the inflation we are facing in stores, online Black Friday sales hit a record $9.12 billion. The National Retail Federation projects total post-Thanksgiving shopping (online and in-store) will be up 6-8% from last year—a decline when factoring in inflation. I was on the roads last weekend, and I can attest to the fact that people are out shopping in droves, honking at each other, and driving like madmen.


At Just the Right Time

Utter confusion. Disorder wherever we look. Kind of like the world into which Jesus was born. Everything in the Old Testament led up to one dramatic moment. There were 400 silent years between the last book in the Old Testament, written by the prophet Malachi, to when Jesus burst onto the scene as a baby born in an animal’s feeding trough. Everything had to be just right in the Roman Empire, when Caesar Augustus decreed that everyone had to return to their hometown for a census. The apostle Paul writes:


“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir” (Galatians 4:4-7, NIV).


In God’s perfect timing, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those living in a topsy-turvy world. It wasn’t a coincidence that Jesus just showed up in history when he did, where he did, and how he did.


Paul tells us in the letter to the church at Ephesus,

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:4, 5, NLT).


God chose all those who follow after him before the creation of the world. Before God fashioned the sun and the stars, plants, the oceans, and his myriad of incredible animals, he chose us! Doesn’t that blow your mind?


The God Who Longs to Bring Us Peace

There’s a story that came out of Wales. It’s about a man who wanted desperately to win the heart of a woman. He tried and tried for 42 years. He pursued this one woman. The couple, both 74 years old, recently became Mr. and Mrs. But let me tell you how it happened. Forty-two years ago, this man and woman had known each other, but they had some disagreement. The man felt horrible and he hoped they could just put it behind them and move on. But the woman really wanted nothing to do with it. So, every week the man would write a love letter to her and slip it under her door. They lived in the same building and he’d slip it under her door, and she’d read the letter but never be moved by it. She just didn’t want to speak to him.


After writing (are you ready for this?) 2,184 love letters—without ever getting a spoken word back or any kind of encouragement—the man finally summoned up enough courage to knock on her door. He knocked on her door, she opened the door, he expressed in words his love for her and said he wanted to marry her. Amazingly, she said yes. Imagine for just a moment the perspective of God trying to win your heart. How does he convince you how much you’re wanted by him? Well, he wrote some love letters to you through his Word, the Bible. That’s how much God loves you, that’s how much he wants to redeem you in the midst of this topsy-turvy world! That’s what the Christmas season is all about. Because of God’s invitation for you to experience life with him, you can know his peace and joy in the midst of whatever chaos you are walking through. And, that’s not topsy-turvy at all. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.


The heavenly army of angels announced it in the shepherds’ field this way about 2025 years ago:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14, KJV).

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