Upside Down

What is it about this image?  I subscribe to the blog Caelum Et Terra and this picture was one of three posts for the last day of January.  I liked the picture so much that I posted the link on my Facebook wall.  Normally I get three or four “likes” on things that I post to the wall, but this one yielded more than twenty.  Now many of you probably get three or four times that many every day, but not me.


My kingdom is not of this world.  No one can serve two masters.  Blessed are the meek.  Woe to you who are rich.  Blessed are the poor.  Love your enemies.


These short quotes from Jesus Christ are under the heading, “Christ’s Most Ignored Teachings.”  And I agree, I do think that they are ignored.  How much time do we spend building a relationship with our credit card company or the spa?  How much energy do we use trying to become richer and more powerful than our friends or co-workers?  How much effort do we use to not look at the homeless guy on the side of the highway?  How much of our life is spent avoiding those we don’t like?  The answer for many of us is probably more than we care to admit.


It’s one thing to have quotes from Jesus alongside a picture of a crucifix or the Bible, but on an American flag, and an upside down flag at that!  Words and phrases that we see more commonly alongside the American flag are, “Born in the USA,” “We the people,” “I pledge allegiance…” and the like.  The flag is a banner that has been used to symbolize unity against our enemies, patriotic nationalism as a highest priority, and an emblem of capitalist prosperity.  But the words of Jesus turn that upside down and ask, "Whose values do you follow?"


Sure, we can read these maxims and even agree with them.  But do we live them out, or even try to?  Perhaps this is why so many others, myself included, liked the picture: It’s a reminder to us of important truths that we recognize, and truths that we are trying to live out.  It’s a reminder to us of Jesus, of the one that we are trying to get to know, of him to whom we owe highest allegiance.  There are many ways to know him, and one of those ways is to listen to his teachings and put them into practice (1 John 2:3).