When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done away with childish ways and have put them aside. (1 Cor. 13:11) This text captured my fascination, specifically because he had just written a whole portion about love.
What is it that he saw? What is it that he now knows as a ‘man’ and chosen to put aside?
Enter Plato. You might wonder what the great Greek philosopher has to do with my understanding of these concepts… He wrote a story called the Cave. His intention was to portray the difficulty we have in determining whether what we perceive is, in fact, reality or a mental impression creating the illusion thereof. For my purpose though, his intention is of little concern. He states a scenario where people have been in a cave since birth, with their arms chained behind their backs and their heads fixed in a forward facing position. They sit next to one another but never see one another. All they can see is a wall. Behind them is a pathway with a fire where people constantly pass by. What they see are shadows reflecting on the opposite wall, and they learn to associate these shadows with the voices behind them. This is their reality.
As the story goes, one man escapes and for the very first time is faced with the outside world, his own limbs, sunlight and people, not shadows. The man is positively overwhelmed with his challenges and is subsequently caught and placed in his original position. Can you imagine having to explain to his fellow prisoners the implications of what he has seen; that all they currently believe as truth is a mere shadow, an impression of reality?
Reading this the first time I thought, ‘what a ridiculous scenario,’ but surely we can understand that extremes are sometimes necessary to expose very deep-seated half-truths. It dawned on me, that maybe, just maybe, this story is not so ridiculous after all… (dum dum dum dum – theatrical music in my head).
Now let’s suppose we are kids, like Paul says, what happens in our relationship with the Father? I suppose we would need a set of rules. Surely this is important to instil some framework in order to determine what it acceptable. This can be likened to the cave; a safe place to prepare us for the outside world. Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
So in our context then, the Cave is the Law from the Old Testament.
Great, we have this set of rules and protocols to live by, I fear there is one very important matter we sometimes miss. The parentals can attest to this I am sure, at some point, you have to let the birds leave the nest; you have to trust that “when they are old they will not depart from it.” The cave is a temporary matter. If it is not, it becomes a prison…
Romans 3:20 states that no person is justified by works according to the Law since the Law’s purpose was to make us conscious of sin.
Somehow, we easily grasp the logical necessity of this truth in our lives when we want to leave the house and start doing our own thing. Why is it then that we have so much trouble doing this in our relationship with God? We remain under the law, thinking that it is our actions that justify us, even now ‘that I have become a man’ I have not put away those childish things. The purpose of the law has been fulfilled.
Jesus says in John 14:6 that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no-one has access to the Father except by Him. Before I tackle this one, let me divert for a second. Matt. 6:22- 23a. The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. But if your eye is unsound, your entire body will be full of darkness. What is this light he talks of? Another verse, Matt. 7:3 – Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother’s eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam in your own eye?
Yup, you guessed it, He is referring to perspective. Our eyes are dark; our reality is captured by sounds ascribed to the motions of shadows on a wall. Luke 4:18 “I have come…. To restore the sight of the blind…” Yes, heal blind people, physically, but also spiritually.
Jesus is the way to the Father. This implies then that He is also the Truth; because our truth… who we are, is love… we are God in us and therefore, love. We come to know ourselves through intimacy with the Father, restored by Jesus as the Way to this restored relationship. He also says He is the Life… for to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom.8:6)… life comes from intimacy with the Father… only thereby is the mind of Christ revealed…
What then is this Light. What is this outside world, the truth from which we shield ourselves in our condemnation and chains? It is Light –Light is perspective, Light is Christ that makes known to us our carnality but also releases us from the law.
It is this Light that shines into our dark secluded understanding that makes us realise that only Christ, Grace, is the true way to the Father, to who we are, our truth, and only by the realisation of that truth could we ever attain real life. Life in Christ.
This is me, the escapee, trying to explain to you my fellow captives, what the outside world looks like. This is me telling you….
You are, a child of light!