Stranger Things: Season One S1E5
What if life could be flipped like a coin, or if two realities could run parallel to each other? What if this actually were true and not everybody knew it or believed it? These ideas are explored in Season One, Episode Five of Stranger Things – “The Acrobat and the Flea.”
As Mike, Lucas and Dustin are talking about their experience of hearing Will’s voice over the radio, Eleven speaks out and says the words, “Upside Down.” Mike and the guys then have an interesting conversation that references the game Dungeons and Dragons’, Vale of Shadows (something similar to the Upside Down) – “a dimension that is a dark reflection or echo of our world, a place of decay and death, a place of monsters – a place that is right next to us, and we don’t even see it.” In a later conversation with Mr. Clarke, their science teacher, we get an insight into his theory of time and space travel with a quick stab of his pen through a paper plate. He does this as an explanation of how a gate could be created to punch through time and space and allow humans (the acrobat in the metaphor) to enter the Upside Down. While Stranger Things contrasts regular life with a darker world called the Upside Down, it brings to mind a reality that many people don’t believe or accept.
As Christians, we believe that we currently live in a fallen world. Turn on any news station, and you’ll find some example of darkness within five seconds (scandals, murders, wars, bullying, crime, exploitation, etc.). And part of our fallen world involves a real Demogorgon (Satan) who pursues nothing short of keeping us out of relationship with a loving God. The picture of our current world as the Bible teaches it is very similar to the ideas of the Upside Down and the Vale of Shadows, where we encounter danger, darkness, isolation, fear, misery and death. And perhaps the scariest part of all is that many people live their lives completely unaware of their dire situation. As Mr. Clarke explained the need for a gate in order to enter the other side, we also believe there is a gate – but not to the Upside Down. Rather, we believe that we are living in a world like the Upside Down and are desperately in need of a way out of darkness and into a place of hope, life, love and restored relationship – a place without fear or death. We all need a gate that allows us access from our present world of death and decay to a “heaven-side” world of eternal life.
Thankfully, the Bible promises us just that. And the gate is Jesus. Unfortunately, many people in our world refuse to acknowledge their need for a better life or a way out of darkness – and all the while, they are missing the actual gate – Jesus. When we come into a relationship with Jesus, it is like walking through a gate into a full life. In the gospel of John chapter 10, verses 7-9, Jesus says:
“Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
In these verses, we find hope and goodness in a Shepherd-God who opens the gate for His flock with love, and for the purpose of providing life to the full – abundant life. Like the Demogorgon and world of darkness we encounter in Stranger Things, we live alongside a spirit world daily, and must strive against forces of evil by relying on an Almighty God. We can choose to enter through the gate of Jesus by confessing that we are part of the problem – we are sinners – and that we need to be rescued. When we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are granted the ultimate gift – eternal life with Him.
- Do you believe that a spirit world is real? What about your friends? Why or why not?
- If our battle is truly not against flesh and blood, but rather is more spiritual, what should our response be? How can we fight what we can’t see?
- The Demogorgon is a force of great evil in Stranger Things. What seems to be the counteracting force of good in the show? How do the forces of good and evil in Stranger Things contrast with the reality of good and evil that exist in our world?
- The image of Jesus as the gate is interesting on many levels. Is it enough to believe in the gate, or must we go through it? How do we enter?
- Stranger Things presents an Upside Down as a world that many people are unaware of. Joyce seems crazy for believing that Will is not dead, but is trapped in another dimension. Do you think Christians sometimes come across as crazy for believing in a spirit world and life after death? How would Jesus want us to respond?
Written by Amy McKee
Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for parents on his website TheSource4Parents.com. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.