Florida College announced the biblical theme for the 2017-2018 academic year during Opening Ceremonies on Thursday, Aug. 24. In the essay below, Dr. Jason Longstreth, dean of students, shares why he selected this year’s theme, “Turning the World Upside Down.”

As a community of believers, we choose a biblical theme for each academic year. This theme is designed to help us reflect on a common spiritual thought throughout the year. Often times, our theme becomes a unifying thread that runs through our chapel talks and devotional messages. But this theme is not just for those times when we engage in explicitly spiritual activities. It also reminds us of the practical application of all that we do. Whether we are studying in the classroom, competing on the athletic fields, praying in chapel or serving in the community, we have a spiritual purpose and a spiritual mission. Our theme helps us remember that fact. The Florida College theme for 2017-2018 is, “Turning the World Upside Down.” It is based on Acts 17:6.

From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus challenged the status quo. Jesus began His Sermon on the Mount by promoting attributes or characteristics that were not valued in the Greco-Roman world of His day. As He continued His sermon, He called on people to practice a type of righteousness that was deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees. He asserted that the commonly held interpretations of the Law did not go far enough. He even told people to store up treasures in heaven instead of treasures on earth.

Through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus overcame the world. He conquered death and brought the gift of righteousness. Furthermore, He changed the very nature and purpose of our existence. Therefore, as His disciples went out into the world and spread this “good news” about Jesus, they called on people to change their lives and become followers of Jesus. As Christians, they would have different goals and ambitions, different attitudes and characteristics, and a different worldview than the rest of mankind. Because of this, the early Christians were characterized as those “who have turned the world upside down.” (Acts 17:6)

Like the first century Christians, we live in a world that has lost its way. We don’t share the same purpose or objectives as those who are of this world, we don’t have the same values or desires, and we don’t share the same destiny—we have a higher purpose. However, we are not called to withdraw from the world. Instead, we have the ability to change it. By sharing Christ with others and imitating Him in all of our actions we can have a tremendous impact on this world. We must make it our ambition to turn the world upside down!

Throughout this academic year, we will examine various aspects of what it means to turn the world upside down. But this will not just be an academic endeavor. Instead, we will strive to put it into practice. In so doing, we will fulfill the closing words of our institution’s mission statement, “…to prepare students for lives of service to their Creator and to humanity.” More importantly, we will fulfill the purpose given to us by our Lord—to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14).

– Dr. Jason Longstreth, Dean of Students