The phrase comes from the book of Acts. It was during Paul's second missionary journey in the ancient city of Thessalonica. Already, the message of Christ was having a profound impact everywhere it was preached. It did in a lot of ways cause an upheaval. By the time this statement was made in Acts 17 the news of Christianity usually preceded it formal messengers, thus we come to verse 6 where Luke records:
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; . . . .
We read these words and stand in awe and admiration as we consider a ministry so powerful that the testimony of the unbelieving world is that they have turned the world upside down. When have we really seen such a thing? Oh, we live in a day of christian fads, flash in the pan Christianity. It does not matter whether it is the Moral Majority, Promise Keepers, Left Behind, WWJD, The Passion, Fire Proof, Purpose Driven Life, and memory fails me......but there have been others.
These movements or movies or books were destined to change the world or at least Christianity. In some cases the world came by to watch for a bit and then moved on to whatever they were doing before. In at least a few cases a few people made a lot of money. Yet, the world remains right side up!
The problem is not the world. The world is what it is. The Scripture tells us the "whole world lieth in wickedness". We should not be surprised that the world has no long term interest in Christianities hottest new novelty. They don't even keep our attention???
Why is it that we don't seem to be able to produce a Christianity of which it could be said, they that have turned the world upside down are come hither also? I think the answer is that we have not embraced a Christianity that has turned our world upside down.
It is hard to read Acts with an honest heart and not realize that first century Christianity was propelled forward by some people who had their lives turned upside down. Therefore wherever they went they tended to have that effect. Theirs was a simple policy of holy living married to a very direct style of preaching men must repent and trust the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to escape hell and have the promise of heaven. It was not palatable in their day either. They suffered immeasurably at the hands of nearly everyone because of their total abandon for Christ. Yet they persevered and managed to turn the world upside down because their own lives had been turned upside down.
Instead we have a Christianity that:
Goes to church when it feels like it
Tithes when it can afford to
Gives to missions when they can find no other way to squelch the guilt
Preaches the gospel......well......hardly ever
Never passes out a tract
Prays only when things are really bad
Struggles to find time to read the Bible
Has redefined holiness as legalism
Defined discipleship as having an extra bible study
In short, too many, myself included have not sufficiently had our lives turned upside down for the cause of Christ!