“Turning Things ‘Up-side Down’”
by Greg Circle
We’re all probably familiar with the claim made against Christians in Thessalonica: “These men who have upset the world have come here also” (Acts 17.6) What does it mean? Should we be turning the world “up-side down”? Let’s look further at the claim made against Christianity.
In the very next verse, we see how they did it – how they upset everyone. “[T]hey all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” The Caesars were falling into the trap of power that the devil always has set. Kings, emperors, despots, and leaders of all sorts have, throughout history, desired to be called a god. Many of them were successful. Soon, a Caesar would call himself god, and coerce people into bowing before him or his image. Christians would not do that.
We turned the world “up-side down” by making it known to people that they are the ones in control of their lives. No power can force you to do anything. The individual has the most power in determining his path. Some entities may make it difficult for those who will not conform, and if they succeed in breaking the individual’s will, he becomes a slave.
So, “whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.” If someone or something becomes so powerful in our lives that it keeps us from serving God, then, yes, we must stand against it’s claim, and say, “There is yet another King – a King even over this king.”
However, the claim that Christians were stirring up (same word as “upsetting the world”) a revolt was claimed many times, but was never true (Acts 21.38). God did grant us the authority to band together and form governments, but He also set limits on those governments. They are to punish the wicked and protect the innocent (Romans 13.1-7). When a government oversteps this bound, and starts doing the opposite, God may punish them (This is a lesson given through the early minor prophets).
Actually, if you think about it, God used His word to turn the world “right-side up.” Through misstep after misstep, mankind has gotten away from God’s plan and consolidated more and more authority in bigger and bigger divisions. This is the way of the world (1 Samuel 8.5-9). But, each church is to have local control. We need to be careful that the world does not turn the church “up-side down” to become like the world around us (Galatians 5.12).