How to Pursue the Truth (12) Part Two

Some may say: “The parents you just talked about are all smallholders, petty merchants, peddlers, cleaners, and those who do odd jobs. These social statuses are very low, and it’s right that people should let go of them. As the saying goes, ‘Man struggles upwards; water flows downwards,’ people should look upward and aim high, and should not look at these things that are associated with low status. For example, who wants to be a smallholder? Who wants to be a petty merchant? Everyone wants to make big money, become a high-ranking official, have status in society, and achieve meteoric success. No one aspires to be a smallholder from a young age, and to be content with working the land and having enough to eat and drink. No one regards that as making it big, there are no such people. It is precisely because families like this bring shame to people and cause them to be treated unfairly for their identity, that they should let go of the identity that they inherit from their family.” Is this the case? (No, it is not.) No, it is not. If we discuss it from a different aspect, some people are born into families that are advantaged, or which have a nice living environment or a high social status, so they inherit a distinguished identity and social status, and are highly regarded in all quarters. Growing up, they are treated with kid gloves by their parents and their family elders, to say nothing of their treatment in society. Because of their special and noble family background, at school, their teachers and classmates all look up to them, and no one dares to bully them. Teachers talk to them softly and cordially, and their classmates are especially respectful of them. Because they come from an advantaged family with a distinguished background, which gives them a noble identity in society and makes others think highly of them, they have a sense of superiority and feel that they have a respectable identity and social status. As a result, in any group they show themselves to be overconfident, saying whatever they please without considering anyone’s feelings, and are totally unrestrained in whatever they do. To other people, they are sophisticated and elegant, not afraid to think big, speak out, and act, and no matter what they say or do, because they have the support of their strong family background, there are always some distinguished people on hand to help them, and everything they do goes smoothly. The smoother things go, the more superior they feel. Wherever they go, they are intent on throwing their weight around and standing out from the crowd, and being different from others. Whenever they eat with others, they pick the big portions, and if they don’t get them they get angry. When living with brothers and sisters, they insist on sleeping on the best bed—the one situated in the sunniest spot, or near to the heating, or wherever the air is fresh—and it belongs to them alone. Is this not a sense of superiority? (Yes.) Some people’s parents earn good money, or are civil servants, or are talented professionals on high salaries, so their family is particularly comfortable and well-off, and has no worries about affording things like food or clothing. As a consequence, such people feel extremely superior. They can wear whatever they want, buying the most fashionable garments and discarding them once they go out of fashion. They can also eat whatever they want—all they have to do is say the word and someone will deliver it. They needn’t worry about anything at all, and they feel extremely superior. The identity they inherit from this type of advantaged family means that in the eyes of others, they are effectively a princess if they are female, or a playboy if they are male. What have they inherited from this type of family? A noble identity and social status. What they have inherited from this type of family is not shame, but glory. No matter what environment or group of people they are in, they always feel that they are head and shoulders above everyone else. They say things like, “My parents are wealthy businesspeople. My family has lots of money. I spend it whenever I want, and I never have to budget,” or “My parents are high-ranking officials. Wherever I go about my business, I can get things done with just a word, without going through the normal procedures. You see how much effort it takes you to get things done, you have to go through the proper procedures, wait your turn, and go cap in hand to people. Look at me, I just tell one of my parents’ aides what needs doing and it gets done. How’s that for identity and social status!” Do they have a sense of superiority? (Yes.) Some people say: “My parents are public celebrities, you can look their names up on the internet and see whether they appear.” When someone checks the celebrity lists and the parents’ names really are there, it gives those people a sense of superiority. Wherever they go, if someone asks them, “What’s your name?” they reply, “It doesn’t matter what my name is, my parents’ names are such-and-such.” The first thing they tell people is the names of their parents, to let others know their identity and social status. Some people think to themselves: “Your family has status, your parents are both officials, or celebrities, or wealthy businesspeople, which makes you the privileged children of high-ranking officials or super-rich parents. What am I?” After thinking about it, they reply, “There’s nothing special about my parents, they’re just ordinary workers earning average wages, so nothing to brag about—but one of my ancestors was a prime minister in some dynasty.” Others say: “Your ancestor was a prime minister. Wow, so you have special status. You are the descendant of a prime minister. Anyone who is descended from a prime minister is no ordinary person, it means you are the descendant of celebrities too!” You see, once a person associates themselves with a celebrity, their identity will be different, their social status will be raised immediately, and they will be a respected person. There are others who say: “My ancestors were a generation of wealthy businesspeople. They were extremely rich. Later, due to social changes and changes in the social system, their assets were confiscated. Now many of the houses that people live in, within a radius of tens of miles of here, were the houses of my ancestors. In the past, my family home had four or five hundred rooms, or at the very least, two or three hundred rooms, and over a hundred servants in all. My grandfather was the proprietor of the business. He never did any work, he just ordered others to do it. Grandma led a pampered life, and they both had attendants to dress them and wash their clothes. Later, because the social environment changed the family went to ruin, so we were no longer part of the nobility but became commoners. In the past, my family used to be big and prestigious. If they stomped their feet at one end of the village, the tremors could be felt right at the other end of the village. Everyone knew who they were. That’s the kind of family I come from, so what do you think of that? It’s pretty exceptional, isn’t it? You should be looking up to me, right?” Still others say: “There’s nothing impressive about your ancestors’ wealth. My ancestor was an emperor, and a founding emperor at that. It is said that my surname was passed down from him. My family are all his direct relatives, not distant kindred. What do you think of that? Now that you know the background of my ancestor, shouldn’t you regard me with renewed admiration and show me a bit of respect? Shouldn’t you be looking up to me?” Some people say: “Although none of my ancestors were emperors, one was a general who killed countless enemies, accomplished countless military exploits, and became an important minister in the imperial court. My family are all his direct descendants. To this day, my family still studies the martial arts moves passed down by my ancestors, which are kept secret to outsiders. What do you think of that? Is my identity not special? Is my status not distinguished?” These special identities that people inherit from their so-called distant ancestral families, as well as from their modern families, are seen as honorable and glorious by people, and from time to time, they name-drop them and flaunt them as a symbol of their identity and social status. In one sense they do it to prove that their identity and status are exceptional. In another sense, when people are telling these stories, they are also striving to carve out a higher standing and social status for themselves, so as to increase their worth among others and appear exceptional and special. What is the purpose of becoming exceptional and special? It is to gain a greater degree of respect, admiration, and esteem from others, so that they can live a more comfortable, easy, and dignified life. Particularly in some special environments, for example, there are people who are constantly unable to assert their presence within a group, or to gain the respect and esteem of others. So, they look for opportunities and from time to time they use their special identity or special family background to assert their presence and let people know that they are exceptional, and to make people value and respect them, so as to gain prestige among people. They say: “Although my own identity, status, and caliber are ordinary, one of my ancestors was counselor to a prince’s family in the Ming Dynasty. Have you heard of so-and-so? That was my ancestor, my great-grandfather’s grandfather, he was an important counselor to the prince’s family. He was known as ‘The Mastermind.’ He was an expert in everything from astronomy to geography, ancient and modern history, and Chinese and foreign affairs. He was also able to make predictions. We still have the geomantic feng shui compass he used in our family.” Though they might not talk about it often, they nevertheless regale others with stories about the dazzling history of their ancestors from time to time. No one knows if what they are saying is true or not, and some of it may be tall stories, but some of it may be true. In any case, in people’s minds, the identity that they inherit from family is very important. It determines their standing and status among others, the treatment they receive among people, and also their situation and rank among people. It is precisely because, when among others, people perceive these things that they get out of their inherited identity, that they regard them as very important. Consequently, they show off those “glorious” and “brilliant” chapters of their family history from time to time, while repeatedly avoiding mention of those aspects of their family background or those things that have happened in their family that are shameful, or which might be looked down upon or discriminated against. In short, the identity that people inherit from their family is very important in their hearts. When they experience some particular events, they often use their special family identity as capital and as a reason to show themselves off, in order to gain people’s recognition and earn status among others. No matter whether your family brings you glory or shame, or whether the identity and social status you inherit from your family are noble or humble, as far as you are concerned, this family is nothing more than that. It doesn’t determine whether you can understand the truth, whether you can pursue the truth, or whether you can embark on the path of pursuing the truth. Therefore, people should not regard it as a very important matter, because it does not determine a person’s fate, nor a person’s future, and less still does it determine the path that a person takes. The identity that you inherit from your family can only determine your own feelings and perceptions among others. Regardless of whether the identity that you inherit from your family is something you despise or is worth bragging about, it cannot determine whether you will be able to embark on the path of pursuing the truth. So when it comes to pursuing the truth, it doesn’t matter what kind of identity or social status you inherit from your family. Even if the identity you inherit makes you feel superior and honored, it is not worth mentioning. Or, if it gives you feelings of shame, inferiority, and low self-esteem, it will not affect your pursuit of the truth. Is it not so? (Yes.) It will not affect your pursuit of the truth in the slightest, nor will it affect your identity as a created being before God. On the contrary, no matter what identity and social status you inherit from your family, from God’s point of view, everyone has the same opportunity to be saved, and performs their duty and pursues the truth with the same status and identity. The identity that you inherit from your family, whether it be honorable or shameful, does not determine your humanity, nor does it determine the path you take. However, if you attach a great deal of importance to it, and regard it as an essential part of your life and being, then you will hold onto it tightly, never let go of it, and take pride in it. If the identity you inherit from your family is noble, then you will regard it as a kind of capital, whereas if the identity you inherit from your family is lowly, you will regard it as a shameful thing. No matter whether the identity you inherit from your family is noble, glorious, or shameful, that is just your personal understanding, and merely the result of looking at the issue from the perspective of your corrupt humanity. It is just your own feeling, perception and understanding, which is not in line with the truth and has nothing to do with the truth. It is not capital for your pursuit of the truth and, of course, it is not a hindrance to your pursuit of the truth. If your social status is noble and elevated, that does not mean it is capital for your salvation. If your social status is lowly and humble, that does not mean it is a hindrance to your pursuit of the truth, let alone a hindrance to your pursuit of salvation. Although a family’s environment and background, quality of life, and living conditions all derive from God’s ordination, they have nothing to do with a person’s true identity before God. Any person, no matter what family they come from, or whether their family background is illustrious or inferior, is a created being in God’s eyes. Even if your family has an illustrious background and you are of noble identity and status, you are still a created being. Likewise, if your family status is humble and you are looked down upon by others, you are nevertheless an ordinary created being in God’s eyes—there is nothing special about you. Different family backgrounds provide people with different growing environments, and different family living environments give people different viewpoints for dealing with material things, the world, and life. Whether one is well-off or wanting in life, or whether one’s family circumstances are advantaged or not, it’s just a different experience for different people. Relatively speaking, those who are poor and whose family has a modest standard of living have a deeper experience of life, whereas, for those who are rich and whose family is particularly advantaged, it is more difficult for them to attain this, right? (Yes.) No matter what kind of family environment you grew up in, and no matter what identity and social status you gained from that family environment, when you come before God, when you are acknowledged and accepted by God as a created being, you are the same as other people in God’s eyes, you are equal to other people, there is nothing special about you, and God will apply the same methods and the same standards in His requirements for you. If you say, “I have a special social status,” then before God, you must disregard this “specialness”; if you say, “My social status is lowly,” then you must also disregard this “lowliness.” Before God, each of you must step away from the identity you have inherited from your family, let go of it, accept the identity that God has given you as a created being, and adopt this identity in performing the duty of a created being well. If you come from a good family and are of noble status, you have nothing to boast about, and you are no more noble than anyone else. Why is that? In God’s eyes, as long as you are a created human being, you are full of corrupt dispositions, and you are one of those whom God wants to save. Likewise, if the identity you inherit from your family is lowly and humble, you must nevertheless accept the identity of a created being that God has given you, and come before God as a created being to accept His salvation. You may say: “My family’s social status is low, and my identity is also lowly. People look down on me.” God says that it doesn’t matter. Today, before God, you no longer appear as a person whose identity was given to you by your family. Your current identity is that of a created being, and what you should accept is God’s requirements for you. God does not show partiality to anyone. He does not look at your family background or your identity, because in His eyes, you are the same as everyone else. You have been corrupted by Satan, you are a member of the corrupted human race, and you are a created being before God, so you are one of those whom God wants to save. It doesn’t matter whether you are the offspring of high-ranking officials or super-rich parents, whether you are a young man of privilege or a princess, or whether you are the child of smallholders or some ordinary person. These things are not important, and God doesn’t look at any of this. Because what God wants to save is you as a person. He wants to change your corrupt disposition, not your identity. Your corrupt disposition is not determined by your identity, nor is your worth determined by your identity, and your corrupt disposition does not come from your family. God wants to save you not because your status may be humble, and especially not because your status may be distinguished. Rather, God has chosen you because of His plan and His management, because you have been corrupted by Satan, and you are a member of the corrupt human race. Before God, no matter what identity you inherit from your family, you are the same as everyone else. You are all members of the human race, who have been corrupted by Satan, and have corrupt dispositions. There is nothing special about you. Is that not so? (Yes.) Therefore, the next time someone around you says, “I used to be a county magistrate,” or “I was a provincial governor,” or someone says, “Our ancestors were emperors,” or someone says, “I was a member of congress,” or “I ran for president,” or someone says, “I was the president of a large company,” or “I was the boss of a state-owned enterprise,” what’s so amazing about that? Is it important that you were once a senior executive or a commanding officer? This world and this society attach great importance to people’s identity and social status, and decide how to treat you according to your identity and social status. But now you are in God’s house, and God will not look at you differently because of how brilliant you were in the past, or how brilliant and glorious your identity used to be. Especially now that He requires you to pursue the truth, is there any point in showing off your qualifications, social status, and worth? (No, there isn’t.) Would it be foolish to do so? (Yes.) Foolish people tend to use these things to measure themselves against others. There are also some new believers who have little stature and do not understand the truth, and who often use these things from society and family to compare themselves to others. People who have some foundation and stature in their belief in God generally wouldn’t do this, nor would they talk about such things. Using one’s family identity or social standing as capital does not accord with the truth.

Now that I have fellowshipped a great deal about it, do you understand what I said about the identity you inherit from your family? (Yes.) Tell Me something about it. (God, I’ll say something about it. People often attach particular importance to the family they were born into, and to their family’s identity and status in society. People who are born into a family with low social status tend to think that they are somehow inferior to others. They feel that they come from very humble origins, and they can’t hold their heads up in society, so they want to strive to better their social status; those who are born into a family with a relatively high standing and status tend to be quite arrogant and conceited, they love to show off, and they have an innate sense of superiority. But actually, people’s social status is not the most important thing, because before God, people have the same identity and status—they are all created beings. A person’s identity and status cannot determine whether they can pursue the truth, practice the truth, or be saved, so one cannot constrain themselves because of their identity and status.) Very good. People who don’t pursue the truth care a lot about a person’s identity and social status, so in some special circumstances, they will say things like: “You know that so-and-so in our church, their family is well-off!” Their eyes light up when they say the words “well-off,” indicating their extremely envious and jealous mentality. Their envious feelings have been growing for so long that it reaches the point where they’re drooling over such people and saying, “Oh, you know those people over there, her father is a high-ranking official, and his is a county magistrate, hers is a mayor, and that one’s father is a secretary in some government department!” When they see someone wearing nice clothes, or someone who dresses well, or who has a bit of class or insight, or who uses particularly high-end things, they feel envious and think, “Their family is rich, they must be rolling in money,” and they are consumed with admiration and envy. Whenever they talk about so-and-so being the boss of some company, they care about that person’s identity more than the person does themselves. They’re always talking about the person’s job even if the person never brings it up themselves, and they even vote for that person when it’s time to elect the church leader. They have particular feelings for people who have a higher social status than they do, and reserve them special attention. They are always trying to pander to those people, get close to them, and fawn over them, while hating themselves and thinking, “Why isn’t my father an official? Why was I born into this family? Why don’t I have anything good to say about my family? The families they were born into are families of either officials or wealthy businesspeople, whereas my family doesn’t have anything. My siblings are all ordinary people, smallholders who work the land and who are all at the lower end of society. And the less said about my parents the better—they’re not even educated. The shame of it!” As soon as anyone mentions their parents, they become evasive and say, “Let’s not bring up this topic, let’s talk about something else. Let’s talk about so-and-so in our church. Look at the management position he holds, he knows how to be a leader. He’s been doing it for decades, no one could replace him. That guy was born to lead. If only the same could be said about us. Now that he believes in God it’s a blessing upon a blessing. He really is a blessed person, because he already has everything one could want in society, and now that he has come into God’s house, he can also enter the kingdom and have a beautiful destination.” They believe that when an official comes into God’s house, he or she should be the church leader, and have a beautiful destination. Who decides that? Do they have the final word? (No.) This is clearly something that nonbelievers say. If they see someone with a bit of ability and innate talent, who dresses well and enjoys the good things in life, and who drives a nice car and lives in a big house, then they persistently associate with that person, fawn over them and ingratiate themselves with them. Then there are others who feel that they have a high social status and standing. When they come into God’s house, they always demand special privileges, shout orders at their brothers and sisters, and treat them like slaves, because they’ve become so accustomed to leading the life of an official. Do such people think that their brothers and sisters are their subordinates? When it’s time to elect a church leader, if they don’t get chosen, they get angry and say, “I won’t believe anymore, God’s house isn’t fair, it doesn’t give people a chance, God’s house looks down on people!” They have become accustomed to being an official out in the world, and think that they are the real deal, so when they come into God’s house, they’re always trying to call the shots, take the lead in everything, and demand special privileges, and they treat God’s house like they do the world and society. Perhaps someone is the wife of an official out in the world, but she still wants to be treated like the wife of an official when she comes into God’s house, and have people flatter her and follow her around. During gatherings, if the brothers or sisters neglect to greet her, she gets angry and stops coming to gatherings, because she feels that people don’t take her seriously, and that believing in God is meaningless. Is this not unreasonable? (Yes.) No matter what special identity you have in society, when you come into God’s house, you lose your special identity. Before God and before the truth, people have only one identity, which is that of a created being. Out in the world, whether you are a government official or wife of an official, whether you are a member of society’s elite or a rank-and-file pen pusher, or whether you are a general or a soldier, you have only one identity in God’s house, which is that of a created being. There is nothing special about you, so don’t seek special privileges or make people worship you. There are still others who come from a special Christian family, or from a family that has believed in the Lord for generations. Perhaps their mother was trained in a seminary, and their father is a pastor. They are especially well-received in the religious community, and believers gather around them. After accepting this stage of God’s work, they still feel that they have the same identity as before, but they’re living in dreamland! It’s time for them to stop dreaming and wake up. It doesn’t matter if you are a pastor or a leader, when you come into God’s house, you must understand the rules of God’s house and learn to change your identity. This is the first thing you need to do. You are not some high-ranking official, nor some rank-and-file pen pusher, you are not a wealthy businessperson, and neither are you poor and penniless. When you come into God’s house, you have only one identity, which is the identity God has given you—that of a created being. What should created beings do? You shouldn’t flaunt your family history, or the social status you inherited from your family, nor use your superior social status to run amok in God’s house and seek special privileges, and you certainly shouldn’t use the experience you have accumulated in society, and the sense of superiority that your social status gives you, to act like a sovereign ruler in God’s house and to call the shots. Rather, in God’s house you should fulfill your duty as a created being, comport yourself in a proper manner, not mention your family background, not harbor any sense of superiority, and neither should you have an inferiority complex; there is no need for you to feel inferior, or have a sense of superiority. In short, you need to obediently do well that which a created being ought to do, and perform well the duty that a created being should perform. Some people say: “So does that mean I have to rein myself in and keep a low profile?” No, you don’t need to rein yourself in or keep a low profile, you don’t need to be subservient, and you certainly don’t need to act high and mighty. You don’t need to try to stand out, you don’t need to put on a pretense, and you don’t need to make concessions just to keep everyone happy. God treats people fairly, and in a just manner, because God is the truth. God has spoken many words to people and made many demands, and ultimately what He requires is for you to perform your duty as a created being properly, and do everything that a created being should do properly. In dealing with this matter of the identity that people inherit from their family, you are also required to view people and things, conduct yourself and act on the basis of God’s words and with truth as the criterion, rather than flaunting the sense of superiority that your family gave you. And of course, if you come from a disadvantaged family, you don’t need to be outspoken and open up to everyone about how bad it is. Some other people may say: “Does God’s house require that we ‘Don’t ask a hero about his origins’?” Is this saying the truth? (No.) This saying is not the truth, so you don’t need to measure anything on the basis of this saying, nor use it as a criterion for abiding by the requirements that God places on you. Regarding the identity that you inherit from your family, what God requires of you is that you perform your duty. Before God, your only identity is that of a created being, so you should let go of things that can impact on you being a good created being, or prevent you from doing it. You shouldn’t make room for these things in your heart, nor attach too much importance to them. Whether in terms of appearances or attitude, you should let go of the distinct identity that you inherit from your family. What do you think of that? Is it doable? (Yes.) Perhaps you inherited an honorable identity from your family, or perhaps your family background casts a shadow over your identity. No matter what, I hope you walk free from that, take this matter seriously, and then afterward, when you encounter some special situations, and these things affect the fulfillment of your duty, and influence your treatment of people, and impact your correct principles for dealing with things, and your principles for getting along with others, I hope that you can stop being influenced by the identity you inherited from your family, and treat everyone and handle everything correctly. For instance, say there is someone in the church who is always perfunctory in her duty and constantly being disruptive. How should you deal with her? You puzzle over this, thinking, “I must prune her, because if I don’t prune her, it will impact on the church’s work.” And so you set about pruning her. But she refuses to give way, and comes up with a raft of excuses. You aren’t afraid of her, so you continue fellowshipping and pruning her. She says, “Do you know who I am?” and you reply, “What does it matter to me who you are?” She says: “My husband is your husband’s boss. If you make things difficult for me today, your husband will be in trouble.” You reply: “This is the work of God’s house. If you don’t do it well and keep on being disruptive, I will dismiss you from your duty.” So she says, “In any case, I’ve told you how it’s going to be. Decide for yourself what should be done!” What does she mean by “decide for yourself”? She’s telling you that if you dare dismiss her, she will get your husband sacked. At this point, you’re thinking, “This woman has powerful backing, no wonder she speaks so arrogantly all the time,” so then you change your tone and say: “Well, this time I’ll let it go, but next time I won’t! I didn’t mean anything by what I said, it’s all for the sake of church’s work. We are all brothers and sisters who believe in God, we are all one family. Think about it, I’m the church leader, how can I not take responsibility for this? If I didn’t take responsibility, you wouldn’t have elected me, would you?” You begin to try and smooth things over. Are there any principles behind this? The defensive wall deep in your heart has collapsed, you daren’t stick to the principles, and you cave in. Is this not the case? (Yes.) So you end up letting her off the hook. You are ashamed that your identity is not as noble as hers, and that her social status is higher than yours, so you feel obliged to let yourself be controlled by her, and obey her. Though you both believe in God, you still let yourself be blackmailed by her. If you cannot get rid of the influence that social status exerts on you, you will not be able to uphold the principles, you will not be able to practice the truth, and you will not be faithful before God. If you are not faithful to God, will God accept you? Will God trust you? Will He still entrust you with important work? To Him you will be an untrustworthy person, because at the critical juncture, you sold out the interests of God’s house to protect your own interests. At the critical juncture, you took fright at the evil forces that come from society and from Satan, causing you to sell out the interests of God’s house and fail to stand firm in your testimony. This is a grave transgression and a mark of having brought dishonor to God. Why is that? Because when you did this, you betrayed your identity as a created being, and violated this principle of doing what a created being ought to do. In handling this matter, you allowed yourself to be influenced by your social status and your identity in society. In confronting any issue, if you cannot let go of the negative influences created by the identity that you inherited from your family, then you may react to these issues by doing unexpected things. In one sense, these things will make you violate the truth, and in another sense, they will leave you utterly at a loss, not knowing what choices to make. This will easily lead you into transgression and regret, so that before God you will be stained and regarded as an untrustworthy person who has violated the principle that God impresses on humankind, which is to perform one’s duty as a created being well, and to do as a created being ought to do. Think about it, this matter is somewhat trivial but also very significant in its severity, is it not? (Yes.)

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