Monday, August 3
You have probably heard the saying, “Great minds think alike.” I think there is more truth to the claim that we might imagine. The ancient philosopher Socrates had a conversation with Plato’s eldest brother Glaucon about transcendent truths—truths that are not dependent on personal opinion and are not even part of the natural order. His conversation is recorded in Plato’s book The Republic. Socrates tells the story of a group of men held captive since their youth. They are held in a cave and tied down so that the only thing they can see is shadows on the wall that are made by their captors in front of a fire behind them. This life is the only life these men know. All their knowledge of the world stems from the shadow puppets cast for their entertainment pleasure. But, Socrates notes, what if one of the captives were to be released and allowed to see the world outside of the cave? The light from the sun would hurt his eyes. His mind would have trouble comprehending the beauty of the exterior world that is so new to him. Socrates further questions Glaucon by asking, what if the man who wanted to free his brothers in the cave were to return to tell of the wondrous things that he had seen? Would his brothers not think him to be a madman and eventually kill him?
Jesus told a parable called the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen or the Parable of the Bad Tenants in Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; and Luke 20:9-19. The parable is about a group of tenant farmers who gave a portion of their harvest to the owner for payment to use the property. Rather than paying the agreed harvest, the wicked tenant farmers beat and killed the servants who requested payment by the landowner. Last of all, they killed the son thinking that they would steal his inheritance. Finally, the landowner came after the tenant farmers and destroyed those wicked men.
Both Socrates and Jesus show that the more important truths of life do not lie in the physical world but outside of it. Those truths are what endures in the end. However, both show that when a person commits oneself to the truth of God, then not everyone will accept them. In fact, most will not. This is to be expected. Jesus noted that it is impossible to serve both God and the world (Matt. 6:24). Paul borrows Jesus’s point to say the same in Colossians 3:23. Amid the uncertainties of life, we all must ask ourselves where our allegiances lie. If you decide to work for the world, then know that it is of no profit to gain the whole world and lose your soul (Matt. 16:26).