I recently read The Cave, in book VII of Plato’s Republic. I’d heard about it from English and Philosophy professors and majors since I arrived at Geneseo, but I’d never felt the need to read it; I knew that it would happen before I graduate. Well, that time came, and it was quite the allegory. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you can click the title of this post and it will open up a link to the story. As the story start we are introduced to the people chained an immobile facing a wall at the bottom/back of a cave. There is a light shining near the entrance of the cave. For some reason, as I was reading, I began to think of these people as not being saved by Jesus. It seemed like a legit comparison, at that moment. Then we are told that there is a fire casting light onto the wall the chained people are facing. A screen is also behind these people, where other people are walking with figures that cast shadows on the one wall that these chained people are looking at. The people holding the figures are naturally talking, and so the people chained at the wall can only assume that the shadows are talking and that they are the only real thing. They see with their eyes. At this point, I thought it was odd how well of a comparison this story was making. Without Jesus, we are enslaved to sin, and we will never know anything other than what our eyes see, since that is all we can see.
At this point, Plato proposes that one of the people in the cave be set free to leave the cave. He asks us to imagine that the light from the cave is blinding to them, and that they cannot look upon it. If someone were to ask this person to name the actual figures and not the shadows, they would be very confused. In much the same way, accepting Jesus as sovereign in our lives and the Savior of man sets us free from the shackles that keep us looking at these shadows. As this person witnesses the reality outside the cave from the suns light, I was reminded of how the Son’s Light reveals the reality both within our hearts and in the world. The shadows are the false lies and empty promises of the world, things like hate, greed, and bitterness, that grab our attention. Jesus offers us Truth when we stop trusting our eyes and begin to trust in Him. His Light reveals things for what they truly are, and we are presented with Hope, Faith, and Love.
Now, Plato asks us to imagine that the person goes back into the cave. They wish to tell the other prisoners of the wonder of the light from outside the cave. However, not only do would this person’s eyes become blinded by the lack of light in the cave, but the other prisoners would be upset with this person’s ridiculous ideas about the shadows being just that. They would harass and possibly kill him if he tried to lead another away from the wall. I wasn’t quite sure how I this fit in with my comparison until I thought about the fact that this person was outside the cave, soaking up the light and drinking in the reality that he was starting to understand with more than his eyes. But his journey back down into the cave would be terrible. The person would be leaving the source of light, and the source, as far as he knew, of everything that was both inside and outside the cave. How very much like a Christians journey back into the world after worshiping our Lord, or praying unto Him. Sometimes we are struck with darkness and confusion, and the people around us will try to tell us that everything we experience is a lie, since reality is right in front of them, what they’re seeing, the only thing they’ve known. Why would they want to leave that safety?
College is a rough time. We miss chances to share the Gospel, we are struck with darkness as we enter back into the cave, and we forget the Joy of being in the Light of the Son. In the midst of these challenges and trials, remember that through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead, we are guaranteed to spend eternity in the Light. Walking back into the cave doesn’t have to be bad. We just need to remember that we can bring the Son along with us, to shine His Light into the darkness. Steven 2 Dragons 0
John 8:12 – “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”