Many of us have read Plato's Cave either in high school or in college or on a lazy Sunday afternoon (hah hah haa!).
The Cave from Plato's Republic has captivated me on several levels. The direct parallel between those in the cave and pre-conversion and post conversion in the life of the believer is so direct and didactic.
Let me set up the allegory of the cave and help with some of the cobwebs that begin to take place in our brains when we put our information in the attic. The cave is an allegory written by Plato and is told by his teacher Socrates.
In this allegory a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives face a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows.
So these people who have been chained to the wall of the cave all of their lives only know the shadows---to them the shadows are the reality. These people only hear the echoes from the real figures, but for them the echoes are the reality.
Socrates then supposes that one of the chained persons is freed and permitted to stand up. If someone were to show him the things that had cast the shadows he would not recognize them for what they were and could not name them; he would believe the shadows on the wall to be the reality.
As the allegory unfolds Socrates tells us that the freed man is compelled to look at the fire, but he cannot and quickly turns back to the shadows. The freed man is then forcibly dragged out of the cave and into the real world where he becomes angry and distressed, but after some time the freed man becomes acclimated to the light and accepts reality over the shadows.
Here is the comparison to the Christian life: Before conversion we loved the shadows, and would not come to the light--- Listen to the words of the Apostle John "...Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).
Of course the light that came into the world is Jesus (the truth), but mankind loves darkness (sin), so they stay in the shadows and refuse to come to Jesus and have their sin exposed.
Salvation is an act of God ---"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him..." (John 6:44). God makes the unwilling willing, God gives a heart of flesh where there was a heart of stone, God draws those whom He has chosen with the bands of love---and they come because he has purposed that they will come.
Socrates ends the allegory by supposing that the freed person goes back to those that are still in the cave and begins to tell them that the shadows that they have been looking at are not the real thing---Socrates tells us that those that are still chained in the cave begin to deride, mock, and ridicule the freed man as being crazy---sound familiar?