On day one of the Stranger Things season three release, 824,000 viewers binged the entire season—all eight episodes. Within just four days, over 40 million household accounts tuned in for its 1980s nostalgia and addictive suspense. One of the most fascinating ideas the show introduced is the Upside Down, an eerie alternate dimension that mysteriously parallels the human world. The 2,287-piece Upside Down Lego set, which sells for $200, is evidence of its impact on pop culture.
But, the concept of an upside-down kingdom didn't originate with the Duffer brothers. Scripture records one of Jesus' most impactful sermons in Matthew 5. This series of blessings, also known as the Beatitudes, describes the eternal rewards that await Jesus' followers who bring their heart attitudes into alignment with His. The heart attitudes that God rewards are opposite from those the world rewards.
The eight verses that comprise the Beatitudes, reveal the Christian's character. They're not statements about what we do—do-attitudes—but who we are by God's grace—be-attitudes. Each statement of promise starts with the word blessed from the Greek word makarios, which means blissful, happy, or to be envied. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)
How do we enter the kingdom of heaven? Humbly. We don't enter proud, self-asserting, or having earned our place; we enter poor in spirit, threadbare, poverty-stricken. God's kingdom belongs to those who recognize their own spiritual bankruptcy.
A poor-in-spirit attitude leads to sorrow as we mourn our sin. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) We typically equate an increase in happiness to a decrease in sadness, but it's the promise of comfort and forgiveness that allows us to be blessed—happy—in our sadness.
Jesus revealed many more heart attitudes that merit both eternal rewards and present happiness, including meekness, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, mercy, and purity of heart (see Matthew 5:5-10). From the Bible's perspective, the way to happiness is holiness. The upside-down kingdom of heaven belongs to those who pursue holiness.