Let me start with a story that a good friend of mine once told me. It’s called the “allegory of the cave” and was written by a philosophical dude called “Plato”.
Imagine a set of prisoners who were born and live in a cave. Their hands and legs are fastened. Their heads are chained so they can’t look left or right, but only at the wall in front of them.
Behind them is a curtain, which has a gap just before it reaches the ceiling. There is a fire that burns behind the curtain, causing shadows to be reflected on the wall in front of the prisoners. People constantly walk back and forth along the top of the curtain, and as a result the prisoners see their shadows as they go past.
The prisoners have never been out of the cave. They were born there. That is their own perception of reality. The shadows they see on the wall are as real as it gets, because they don’t know any different.
Now imagine if one of these prisoners is released and goes out of the cave. He sees that everything outside is in colour. The people and objects he sees are all 3 dimensional, rather than shadows. He discovers that the whole time he was in the cave he was trapped and deprived from seeing or knowing the truth.
Now, imagine that man going back to the cave to tell the other prisoners what he had found out. What do you think would be their response? In all likelihood…they will tell him he is crazy. They will say he doesn’t know what he is talking about. In fact, they will form a campaign just to get rid of him and prevent him from telling such lies and building false expectations. Then they will make a law stating that noone else was allowed to leave the cave under any conditions.
The allegory is deep; and it goes a long way in reflecting what I am about to say. Hopefully you will see the connection when im done.
I decided to read the bible; and for the first time in my life I was genuinely interested in what it said. I read it like every other Christian, believing that it was the complete word of God and I wasn’t supposed to argue or question what it said. My favourite writer….was Paul.
Paul just had a way with words. There’s a way that he says and explains things that I could identify with so easily. As far as I was concerned, Jesus was the most important person; but I felt I needed Paul in order to understand Jesus. Jesus was too deep. Paul was more like a normal man; struggling the same way I was struggling and striving to be a better person. It got to the point that I more or less read nothing else but Paul; simply because I thought he held all the “realistic” answers.
There was a fellowship that I used to attend fairly regularly; twice a week. Just a group of people who meet up and literally discuss what is written in the bible, just so we can have a better understanding of it. Then, for a period of about 2 months or so, we decided to focus all our attention on Paul.
It’s amazing what happens when you decide to view things objectively. That’s the problem with being a Christian. They are forced to view things in a particular way, and as a result, they remain blind. I don’t claim to be better than them, I mean, I was them. But it is only when the veil is removed from your eyes that you start to see just how blind Christians really are.
For the first time ever, it was a first time for a lot of things in those days, I decided to really think about the Christian doctrine, where it came from, and if it actually made any sense.
Check it out for yourself: Christians believe that there is a God who loves the world, but he hates sin. Anyone that sins must die; but because God loves us, he sent his son…so that he would kill him in our place.
I dare say you have never thought about what all of that means. Ill draw out a few things though for the sake of the discussion. First of all, and this to me is the most fundamental; believing in that theory basically means I don’t have to do anything. If I am a thief, in other words a sinner, all I have to do is believe that God really did send his son, and on the basis of that belief, God no longer sees me as a sinner. I am covered by the blood of Jesus. Does that make any sense? To me all of a sudden it didn’t. By the time I started to question these things further; I realised that all of these beliefs originated from Paul.
As a Christian I could never really see the difference between the message of Paul and the message of Christ; but all of a sudden I could. The more I started to question things, the more I realised just how dangerous Paul really was.
Paul paints a picture where everyone is born a sinner, because of the sin that Adam committed. He claims we can’t stop ourselves from sinning because we are humans, and as long as we are in this flesh we will continue to sin. But he said don’t worry….Jesus has been punished for every sin that we will ever commit, so all we have to do is have faith and believe in his story, and God will no longer see us as sinners.
Think about it again for a second. This belief has created a set of people who lie, cheat, steal and kill; but as long as they feel remorseful about it, believe in Jesus and ask for forgiveness….God is cool about it.
When I compare this message to what Jesus actually says, it’s obvious that it is completely different. Jesus says every man will be judged by his own words; nothing about him being judged in their place. He goes so extreme that he says if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Does that sound like a guy that is going to die for you? Not to me. Don’t be deceived by Paul’s sweet sounding words that make life easy. He basically tells us what we want to hear. Jesus did not come to die for you….he came to tell you to die for yourself.
Let’s put it more in perspective. If you are a thief, Paul presents that you are covered by something called “grace” (which by the way, Jesus never mentions “once”, even though Paul mentions it “99 times”). Jesus presents that if you are a thief, stop being a bloody thief!
It’s really not that difficult to see the difference between the two, unless you really don’t want to. What I’ve discovered is that most people are scared to. How do you tell a person who is born into a Christian home and has believed this myth all his life that it’s all a lie? Christians are taught that if someone preaches anything different, they are disciples of the devil trying to confuse them. It’s not as though Christians listen and determine the truth for themselves; they are told specifically “not to listen”. This of course ensures that they will forever remain ignorant. I’m living proof that they attack the person who is delivering the message rather than evaluating the message for themselves. The issue is always “who gives you the right to question Paul?” but it’s never “does Paul’s message make any sense?”
To cut a long story short; I started to focus on what Christ had to say. I forgot about Paul and everyone else. They were all just distractions. They say this Jesus guy is the son of God right? Well let me see what the dude himself has to say….rather than try to understand his message through some other guy. That decision has opened my eyes to a lot of things.
Look let me tell you something. You read the bible because you believe that in its pages you can find life; but at the end of the day, life can never be found within the pages of a book. Jesus explains everything we need to know about God….but what good is it to us if it all ends there? He had to explain things to us because we didn’t understand; and because of guys like Paul, we still don’t understand. That is why we have millions of Christians who are nothing like Christ; because in the final analysis, Christians themselves don’t even know the message of Christ, so how can they live it?
Ask a Christian this question. You are saved right? Well what exactly are you saved from? I put it to you that they can’t tell you an answer. They are most likely to say that they are saved from “hell”; an eternal pit of fire that awaits those who don’t believe in Jesus. But how can you be saved from a place you have never been to? I would understand if you were in prison and a guy came and opened the door, and you claimed you had been saved from there….why? Because you were in there to begin with.
Christians have no understanding about what Jesus saved them from, which is why they are still trapped in the same place since he came and left. You wanna know what Jesus saved you from? He saved you from the “bible”.
Throughout Jesus ministry he constantly warned us about men. He never said beware of the devil…..he said beware of men. It is men that he came to save us from. Men who teach us all kinds of false doctrines that ensure that we never find God cause we don’t know where to look. It is men that create a book of lies and call it the unquestionable word of God, and from birth you are taught to have faith and neglect your brain when reading it. It’s a sad story. One that you and I don’t have to be a part of. In the past I’ve made a point of saying that the word of God is not the bible….but it is “in” the bible. The journey doesn’t end there though. That really is just the beginning.
I had an experience where God touched me. On the basis of that I could have claimed that I know God. I could have built a church and started a ministry; preaching to the world about a God that I didn’t understand. That is the tragedy of Paul. Even if he indeed had an encounter with God; that doesn’t mean that he knew him. Paul never consulted with the disciples. In fact he claimed he had the mind of Christ so he did not need to confer with flesh and blood. Ill go a step further and say it was much too deliberate to be all a series of errors on his part. He knew what he was doing. Just like you and I know what we are doing. Enlightenment is a choice. It is also a choice to ignore the truth, even when it is staring you right in the face.
Let me tell you something from the little I know about God. I read a few comments from a note i wrote a while back and simply smiled to myself. We seem to think that it is up to God to prove himself to us. Like he owes us some sort of undisputable evidential show that would prove beyond a doubt that he is God. Reality should tell us that if God wanted to show the entire world in one go that he was indeed God he could do that in a minute. He could create a ball of fire in the sky with the words “I am God” written on it and probably a lot more imaginative ways of expressing his “Godness”. But the truth is God is not interested in that. God is interested in people that are interested “in him”. If you seek him, you will find him. He’s like a guy that wants to find out how much you want to be his friend. Are you willing to research, ask questions, constantly seek for answers? The answers are there…..but do you want to know them? We seem to think that one day certain things will just fall in our laps. Even with things in the world, life is not that simple. It requires an effort; it requires a desire.
A man does not just wake up and discover that he can break the world record for the 100 meters. It’s not something that is going to happen as a surprise or an accident. It comes at a cost. Sleepless nights, early mornings, specific diets, refrains from all kinds of pleasures that would hinder his progress. If a man can do all these things because he is willing to do what it takes to win a medal……what do you think it would take to find God? That’s a question that is definitely worth asking; because at the moment; we seem to think that God is the one that should be trying to find us. In reality…..the ball is in your court.