Robert Whiteaker:” Don Rogers and the Bible
Publisher Don Rogers’ column, “Our lot in life,” depicts Aristotle’s cave, which is an allegory of the human condition where people are prisoners facing a blank wall.
There is a fire behind them and people and objects pass between them and the light so that their shadows reflect on the wall. The prisoners see only the shadows, and that is their only view of reality. The philosopher is like one who breaks free of the chains and is able to see the actual people or objects instead of their shadows.
In Mr. Rogers’ allegory, the prisoners are not chained, but they still do not see true reality as they dig their way through life looking for fortune or fame. But in the end Mr. Rogers’ diggers, whether finding fortune or not, end up the same as the prisoners: under the headstone.
He concludes that all the striving and digging were for nothing except accumulating things we cannot take with us past the grave. Instead we should devote ourselves to love.
This reminds me of a Bible verse: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” (1 Cor. 13:12a) In this case the Apostle Paul is saying that the reality we see is still just shadows of a higher reality. We will see this higher reality when/if we reach heaven. The rest of that verse says: “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” Fully known by whom? By his creator, God.
In the Christian world view there is much more to life than we can see and feel in the world around us. However, we have a connection to that realm through our spirit. As Jesus says in John 6:63: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” So even though our flesh dies and turns to dust, our spirit lives on. And since the next life is eternal it must be a better reality than life on earth.
Therefore wouldn’t it be wise to build on the things we can take with us to the next life?
We can’t take any of the things we have acquired through our “striving and digging” with us to the next realm, but we will take our character, however good or bad that may be. But where will we live when we get there? The Bible tells us of two possibilities: The good place (Heaven) or the bad place (Hell).
The choice is ours as Jesus declares in the well known verse John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The operative word is “believes,” as in believes in Jesus enough to become a follower of his and not just a fan. A fan may say they believe that God, Jesus and heaven exist, but doesn’t live their life as a true and diligent follower. As 1 John, verse 6 says: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”
Practicing the truth is what makes Christianity one of the most difficult religions to follow and adhere to because its precepts are so antithetical to our human nature. As Jesus said “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). We want to take pride in our accomplishments and efforts rather than letting the Lord lead our lives and thanking him for what we receive and accomplish.
Being a disciple also means being thankful for difficult trials and tribulations that can strengthen our character (James 1:2) as well as our trust and faith in God. Living a spiritual life means we develop the fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control …” (Gal. 5:22-23) .
Mr. Rogers ends his article surmising that the philosopher believes in love. I can’t speak to Aristotle’s heart for love, but the apostle Paul puts it in perspective for us: “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but have not love, I am nothing” (I Cor. 13:2).
Robert Whiteaker lives in Lake Wildwood.
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