Plato had this theory that there was another reality that was eternal, unchanging, and ageless. He said that most of humanity didn’t realize that what they could perceive and what they based their knowledge on was not the real reality, it was a shadow of the real reality. Some people do get a glimpse of the real reality, but when they go back to tell the rest, they are accused of being crazy and whatever else fits the situation (dangerous, heretic, etc…). It’s like the person who figured out that the earth wasn’t flat. He was rejected by everyone who ‘knew better’.
Plato had a story about a cave that he used to illustrate his theory of existence. In his book ‘Republic’ he invites readers to imagine a “cave in which some prisoners are bound so that they can look only at the wall in front of them. Behind them is a fire whose light casts shadows of various objects on the wall in front of the prisoners. Because the prisoners cannot see the objects themselves, they regard the shadows they see as true reality. One of the prisoners eventually escapes from the cave and, in light of the sun, sees real objects for the first time, becoming aware of the big difference between them and the shadow images he had always taken for reality.”
The cave “represents the world we see and experience with our senses”, and the world of sunlight represents another realm that Plato called, the realm of Forms. The prisoners represent ordinary people, who, “in taking the sensible world to be the real world, are condemned to darkness, error ignorance, and illusion.” The escaped prisoner is the one who has seen the “light, truth, beauty, knowledge, and true reality.”
If he returns to the cave to tell the prisoners how things really are, “they will think his brain has been addled. “This difficulty is sometimes faced by those who have seen the truth and decide to tell others about it.”
I’m telling you this story because it hits close to home. There are two different realities. They have been referred to as ‘flesh and spirit’, ‘the world’s way and God’s way’, ‘worldly and spiritual’, ‘temporal and eternal’, etc…
Jesus references His Father’s ‘Kingdom’ when He’s teaching. He also remarks at His use of language that the listeners can understand instead of using ‘plain language’ that will go over their heads.
“I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.” -Jesus in John 16:25
When He did use plain language, it got him in trouble. He tells His followers that if they talk about His Kingdom, the way it works, and the real truth, then they’ll be hated, too.
“If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you. …They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don’t know the One who sent me. If I hadn’t come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn’t be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse.” -Jesus in John 15:19, 21-22 MSG
He tells analogies (parables) and says “The Kingdom is like….” in an effort to get people to use the shadows to get a hint of the reality. (see Matthew 13, 20, and Luke 13 to study more.)
1 Corinthians 13 uses plain language in reference to what I’m talking about. Look at this:
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” –1 Corinthians 13:12
There are two separate realities that you continually have to choose between. The Bible speaks to people in both realms of awareness. There is an eternal language, for those who can hear it, and there is a temporal language for those who are still finding their bearings. Many senseless arguments erupt between people who are more fluent in ‘eternal’ and people who are more fluent in ‘temporal’. It’s senseless because one group is talking about ‘x’ and the other is talking about ‘y’. We need mediators so that people can understand each other better and actually get somewhere. More often than not, they would realize they believe the same thing. Instead, they’re much like allies with bags over their heads. They fight the wrong people.
It would be helpful to categorize things into their appropriate realms. The spiritual realm is the greatest because it never dies. Consider what belongs there and out of those things, what is the greatest? The Bible is clear about what we should be concerning ourselves with and it says that love is the greatest. What falls in line after that? For example, where do the personal rules you follow regarding practice fit? Where does your treatment of others fit? They’re in two different realms. One is more important than the other.
Spend your time on the things that exist in the eternal world, or as you’re used to hearing it: ‘Walk in the spirit.” You have to take inventory of your treasures and start sorting them so that you spend your time on what matters and shelf the things that don’t.
What are some things that you could categorize?…