Back to The Cave

The lens presents us with a choice. We can either live in light of the truth, the gospel lens, that says that God has already solved our biggest problem or we can believe the lie and remain trapped by our false identity, constantly serving it to keep it satisfied. This choice is just like the one presented in The Cave.

If you recall, the view of reality for those held prisoner in the cave was just a shadow of a made up world. Each person’s identity was a cave dweller, sitting and watching the shadows. Yet, when the chains were released, there is a choice and a new identity can be created. The person can leave the cave and experience the wonder and beauty of things unknown. This new world that was created for them was there all along, they just needed to make the steps to enter in.

Freedom is the gospel lens. Entering the light is part of the lens of Jesus. In it there is a light burden and there is no enslavement.

Yet, what if someone chose to remain in the cave? This is entirely possible. We see it all the time. Even being a prisoner is comfortable. It is known. There is no risk, no change, no possible pain. It is easy to simply sit back down and watch the shadows.

The Israelites did this as they trudged through the desert. Shouting down Moses, demanding to turn around because at least in Egypt they had meat in their pot. It is well documented that prisoners get comfortable being institutionalized. Experiencing the expanse of the world, being force to make decisions on the outside become difficult and painful. So much easier to embrace the shadows.

But to believe the lie, to cling to the false identity, is to miss freedom. To continue looking through the dirty lens means that our energy will continually be expended placating and satisfying the false self. And the demands of the false self grow and grow and grow, and we struggle more and more and more to meet them in an exhausting cycle that brings less and less satisfaction.

Look at the twelve step program. In its essence, these programs do a wonderful job. The intent of a program like Alcoholics Anonymous is to identify alcoholism and call it what it is for the purpose of changing the lens. When you read through the twelve steps, the only one that mentions alcohol is number 1. The rest of the steps highlight the process of shedding the old identity and substituting it with another based on God.

Where this process fails is when the person involved misses the point and instead clings to the identity of alcoholic. Believing the lie that their struggle defines them, trapped in the cave of shame and sorrow rather than experiencing true freedom.

You and I, as followers of Christ, are free of the lie. We have the ability to walk out of the cave and become what God intended us. Experiencing His love and letting it renew and strengthen us daily. As the Paschal Mystery describes, though, we cannot be blessed by the new if we are still clinging to the old – if we refuse to walk up the steps, refusing to look through the gospel lens.
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