How The Monster Got In
One day earlier this fall, our family woke up to a rainy, grey, Saturday. The formation of the clouds, the hue in the sky and the constant drizzle in the air meant that the conditions were perfect for a Netflix marathon.
Susan and the kids watched the entire season of Stranger Things that day. I would have joined them, but my obsessive need to start and finish smaller projects on the same day kept me upstairs painting. I’m not claiming any moral high ground here. I wanted to binge with them, only coming up from the basement for food or an occasional washroom break, but I was a slave to that paint roller because my obsessive brain won’t permit me to look at a half painted room.
Even though I was late to the Stranger Things party, I did get caught up. If you’re late to the party as well, but you intend to watch the story, you should stop reading this now. You have been warned …
How did the monster get in?
As the storyline unfolded, we discovered that the people in small town Hawkins, Indiana were being attacked by a monster from another realm. This realm, the “upside down”, was a dark place. The writers provoked us episode after episode to wonder, “how did the monster get in?”
In Chapter 6, it was revealed that the young girl named ‘Eleven‘ who had the extraordinary ability to move from our realm to the realm of the “upside down”, discovered the monster while it was feeding. Overcome with with both fear and curiosity, she came up behind it and touched it. The moment she did, a gateway was formed. The residents of that little were in grave danger as a result, having become unsuspecting prey for the monster.
We live in a world that is paradoxical. Our lives are filled with joy and pain. We all crave lives that consist of joy without sorrow, but sorrow is a part of life.
As we look out across the landscape of humanity, spanning both culture and history, we find this inescapable paradox repeated over and over. We enjoy health and we battle disease, the reasons for which often go unexplained. Humanity is capable of both love and abuse. We cherish people and we manipulate people. We can be sacrificial and we can be greedy. We liberate and we oppress. We can be selfless and we can be myopic.
We find ourselves desperate for God’s grace.
Some have argued that a world of peace and love can be enjoyed without God. Historically speaking, the attempts to achieve godless utopias have not fared well for the societies that tried. Peter Hitchens, a British journalist and atheist turned theist once wrote that a life without God makes a person a ‘homeless utopian‘. He discovered while living in the USSR that denying the plausibility of the love filled, sorrow free kingdom that the gospel promises with Christ’s return still left humanity powerless to create a love filled, sorrow free kingdom for themselves.
Ecclesiastes 3 teaches us that God has put eternity in our hearts, which is why pain, sorrow and death grieve us. We weren’t created for any of it, yet we have no choice but to endure it.
The monster of sorrow, sin and death, got in when our parents sinned against God in the garden and chose to be god. The good news of the gospel is that for all those united to Christ, the last enemy – called death – is a defeated enemy. The good news is that the trajectory of Christ’s life is the trajectory of all those who are in Him: life from death.
God wrote Himself into human history to accomplish our redemption. Christian faith is not just a theological truth claim – it’s a historical truth claim.
Christ, the Redeemer, came into the world to do what we could never do – deliver us from sin and death. God’s gift of grace was wrapped in a manger and thirty three years later, will be unwrapped in an empty tomb.