The Upside Down
As a kid I remember reading this exact Calvin & Hobbes comic; it made an impact on me because it was the first time I was introduced to the idea of reality potentially being something different than what I perceived. Later in high school this idea would be brought back up in the film, The Matrix, and in college when I read Plato's allegory of The Cave. Each one, in a very different format, is trying to get you, if only for a moment, to question whether what you perceive to be real, is actually real.
Jesus, in His "Sermon on the Mount" does a very similar thing. However, rather than try to get you to think that reality might be different than what it seems, He, as the authoritative Son of God is announcing that it truly is. Reality is the life found in connection to God; in His kingdom; which is only made possible by Jesus Christ. And this makes it so the people who enter this kingdom are remarkably different than the world as well in their priorities, ethics, relationships, attitudes… all stemming from the fact that they have sworn allegiance to a different King.
In Timothy Chapman's article "The Counterintuitive Beauty of the Beattitudes," he writes,
From the perspective of the world, there’s absolutely nothing blessed about mourning, meekness, or mercy. The world asserts the opposite: “Blessed are the powerful, for they shall inherit everything.” It operates according to values and principles we’ve come to expect and accept. So in highlighting the strange and unexpected values of his kingdom Jesus challenges us, repeatedly, to realize his way is full of surprises. His kingdom doesn’t look like all the kingdoms of the earth to which we’re so accustomed.
And so Jesus invites us to look within to see ourselves differently than we did before. However, it should cause us to look around at our world differently as well. GK Chesterton takes the idea of an upside down world even farther. He speaks of using the imagination to see all the world as upside down in so that the impressive buildings that seem very strong would suddenly seem helpless and in peril. That by seeing things differently with our eyes, we come to what is a much more real truth of it all - that it all is dependent upon God. He says,
He who has seen the whole world hanging on a hair of the mercy of God has seen the truth; we might almost say the cold truth. He who has seen the vision of his city upside-down has seen it the right way up.
Could reality be different than what is perceived? Upside down. Right side up. It all depends on how you look at the world. Unless God exists, then it all depends on how He looks at it. What is going to help you see the world differently? People have been trying for millenia; only Jesus has the real key to see it as it is, and as it should be.