Work and Entry (9)
Entrenched ethnic traditions and mental outlook have long since cast a shadow over the pure and childlike spirit of man, and they have attacked the soul of man without the slightest humanity, as if bereft of emotion or any sense of self. The methods of these demons are extremely cruel, and it is as if “education” and “nurturing” have become the traditional methods by which the king of devils slays man. Using its “profound teaching” it completely covers its ugly soul, dressing in sheep’s clothing to gain man’s trust and then seizing the opportunity when man slumbers in lethargy to devour him completely. Poor mankind—how could they know that the land upon which they were raised is the land of the devil, that the one who raised them is actually an enemy who hurts them. Yet man does not awaken at all; having sated his hunger and thirst, he prepares to repay the “kindness” of his “parents” in bringing him up. That is how man is. Today, he still does not know that the king who raised him is his enemy. The earth is littered with the bones of the dead, the devil makes manic merry without cease, and carries on devouring the flesh of man in the “netherworld,” sharing a grave with human skeletons and vainly attempting to consume the last remnants of the tattered body of man. Yet man is ever ignorant, and has never treated the devil as his enemy, but instead serves it with all his heart. Such a depraved people is simply incapable of knowing God. Is it easy for God to become flesh and come among them, carrying out all His work of salvation? How could man, who has already plunged into Hades, be able to satisfy God’s requirements? Many are the sleepless nights that God has endured for the sake of the work of mankind. From up high to the lowest depths, He has descended to the living hell in which man lives to pass His days with man, He has never complained of the shabbiness among man, and He has never reproached man for his disobedience, but endures the greatest humiliation as He personally carries out His work. How could God belong to hell? How could He spend His life in hell? But for the sake of all mankind, so that the whole of mankind can find rest sooner, He has endured humiliation and suffered injustice to come to earth, and personally entered into “hell” and “Hades,” into the tiger’s den, to save man. How is man qualified to oppose God? What reason does he have to complain about God? How can he have the gall to look upon God? God of heaven has come to this most filthy land of vice, and has never vented His grievances, or complained about man, but instead quietly accepts the ravages and oppression of man. Never has He hit back at the unreasonable demands of man, never has He made excessive demands of man, and never has He made unreasonable demands of man; He merely does all the work required by man without complaint: teaching, enlightening, reproaching, the refinement of words, reminding, exhorting, consoling, judging, and revealing. Which of His steps has not been for the life of man? Though He has removed the prospects and fate of man, which of the steps carried out by God has not been for the fate of man? Which of them has not been for the sake of man’s survival? Which of them has not been to free man from this suffering and from the oppression of dark forces that are as black as night? Which of them is not for the sake of man? Who can understand God’s heart, which is as the heart of a loving mother? Who can comprehend God’s eager heart? God’s passionate heart and ardent expectations have been repaid with cold hearts, with callous, indifferent eyes, and with the repeated reprimands and insults of man; they have been repaid with cutting remarks, and sarcasm, and belittlement; they have been repaid with man’s ridicule, with his trampling and rejection, with his miscomprehension, and moaning, and estrangement, and avoidance, and with nothing but deceit, attacks, and bitterness. Warm words have been met with fierce brows and the cool defiance of a thousand wagging fingers. God can but endure, head bowed, serving people like a willing ox. So many suns and moons, so many times has He faced the stars, so many times has He departed at dawn and returned at dusk, and tossed and turned, enduring agony a thousand times greater than the pain of His departure from His Father, enduring the attacks and breaking of man, and the dealing and pruning of man. God’s humility and hiddenness has been repaid with the prejudice of man, with the unfair views and unfair treatment of man, and the soundless way God works in obscurity, His forbearance, and His tolerance have been repaid with man’s greedy gaze; man tries to stomp God to death, without compunction, and tries to trample God into the ground. Man’s attitude in his treatment toward God is one of “rare cleverness,” and God, who is bullied and disdained by man, is crushed flat beneath the feet of tens of thousands of people, while man himself stands up high, as if he would be the king of the hill, as if he wants to take absolute power, to hold court from behind a screen, to make God the conscientious and rule-abiding director behind the scenes, who is not allowed to fight back or cause trouble. God must play the part of the Last Emperor, He must be a puppet, devoid of all freedom. The deeds of man are untellable, so how is he qualified to demand this or that of God? How is he qualified to propose suggestions to God? How is he qualified to demand that God sympathize with his weaknesses? How is he fit to receive God’s mercy? How is he fit to receive God’s magnanimity time and time again? How is he fit to receive God’s forgiveness time and time again? Where is his conscience? He broke God’s heart long ago, he has long since left God’s heart in pieces. God came among man bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, hoping that man would be charitable toward Him, even if only with a little warmth. Yet God’s heart is slow to be comforted by man, all He has received are snowballing attacks and torment. Man’s heart is too greedy, his desire is too great, he can never be sated, he is always mischievous and foolhardy, he never allows God any freedom or right of speech, and leaves God with no option but to submit to humiliation, and allow man to manipulate Him however he wishes.
From creation until now, God has endured so much pain, and suffered so many attacks. Yet even today, still man does not relax his demands of God, still he scrutinizes God, still he has no tolerance toward Him, and does nothing but give Him advice, and criticize Him, and discipline Him, as if deeply fearful that God will take the wrong path, that God on earth is brutish and unreasonable, or running riot, or that He will not amount to anything. Man always has this kind of attitude toward God. How could it not sadden God? In becoming flesh, God has endured tremendous pain and humiliation; how much worse, then, to make God accept the teachings of man? His arrival among man has stripped Him of all freedom, such as if He were imprisoned in Hades, and He has accepted being dissected by man without the slightest resistance. Is this not shameful? In coming among the family of a normal man, “Jesus” has suffered the greatest injustice. Even more humiliating is that He has come to this dusty world and humbled Himself to the very lowest depths, and has assumed a flesh of supreme ordinariness. In becoming a meager human being, does God Most High not suffer hardship? And does He not do so for mankind? Have there been any times when He was thinking of Himself? After He was rejected and put to death by the Jews, and derided and mocked by the people, He never complained to Heaven or protested to earth. Today, this millennia-old tragedy has reappeared among this Jew-like people. Do they not commit the same sins? What makes man qualified to receive God’s promises? Does he not oppose God and then accept His blessings? Why does man never face justice, or search for the truth? Why is he never interested in what God does? Where is his righteousness? Where is his fairness? Has he the gall to represent God? Where is his sense of justice? How much of that which is beloved of man is beloved of God? Man cannot tell chalk from cheese, he always confuses black with white, he suppresses justice and truth, and holds unfairness and unrighteousness high up in the air. He drives away the light, and cavorts amid the darkness. Those who seek the truth and justice instead chase away the light, those who seek God trample Him beneath their feet, and hoist themselves into the sky. Man is no different from a bandit. Where is his reason? Who can tell right from wrong? Who can uphold justice? Who is willing to suffer for the truth? People are vicious and diabolical! Having nailed God to the cross they clap and cheer, their wild cries are without cease. They are like chickens and dogs, they collude and connive, they have established their own kingdom, their meddling has left no place undisturbed, they shut their eyes and madly howl on and on, all cooped up together, and a turbid atmosphere pervades, bustling and lively, and those who blindly attach themselves to others keep emerging, all holding up the “illustrious” names of their forefathers. These dogs and chickens long ago put God to the back of their minds and have never paid any attention to the state of God’s heart. Small wonder that God says man is like a dog or a chicken, a barking dog that sets a hundred others howling; this way, with much ballyhoo he has brought God’s work into the present day, heedless of what God’s work is like, of whether there is justice, of whether God has a place on which to set His feet, of what tomorrow is like, of his own lowliness, and of his own filthiness. Man has never thought about things that much, he has never worried himself over tomorrow, and has gathered all that is beneficial and precious into his own embrace, leaving nothing to God except scraps and leftovers. How cruel mankind is! He spares no feelings for God, and after secretly devouring everything of God, he tosses God far behind him, paying no further heed to His existence. He enjoys God, yet opposes God, and tramples Him underfoot, while his mouth gives thanks to and praises God; he prays to God, and depends on God, while also deceiving God; he “exalts” the name of God, and looks up to the face of God, yet he also brazenly and unashamedly sits upon the throne of God and judges the “unrighteousness” of God; from his mouth come the words that he is indebted to God, and he looks at God’s words, yet in his heart he hurls invective at God; he is “tolerant” toward God yet oppresses God, and his mouth says it is for the sake of God; in his hands he holds the things of God, and in his mouth he chews the food that God has given him, yet his eyes fix a cold and emotionless stare upon God, as if he wishes to gobble all of Him up; he looks upon the truth but insists on saying that it is Satan’s trickery; he looks upon justice but forces it to become self-denial; he looks upon the deeds of man and insists they are what God is; he looks upon man’s natural gifts and insists they are the truth; he looks upon God’s deeds and insists they are arrogance and conceitedness, bluster and self-righteousness; when man looks upon God, he insists upon labeling Him as human, and tries hard to put Him on the seat of a created being who is in cahoots with Satan; he knows full well they are the utterances of God, yet will call them nothing other than the writings of a man; he knows full well that the Spirit is realized in the flesh, that God has become flesh, but says only that this flesh is the descendant of Satan; he knows full well that God is humble and hidden, yet says only that Satan has been shamed, and God has won. What good-for-nothings! Man is not even worthy of serving as guard dogs! He does not distinguish between black and white, and even deliberately twists black into white. Can the forces of man and the beleaguering of man brook the day of God’s emancipation? After deliberately opposing God, man could not care less, or even goes so far as to put Him to death, giving God no leave to show Himself. Where is the righteousness? Where is the love? He sits beside God, and pushes God to his knees to beg for forgiveness, to obey all of his arrangements, to acquiesce to all of his maneuverings, and he makes God take His cue from him in all He does, or else he is incensed and flies into a rage. How could God not be grief-stricken under such influence of darkness, which twists black into white? How could He not worry? Why is it said that when God began His latest work, it was like the work of creating the heavens and earth? The deeds of man are so “rich,” the “ever-flowing wellspring of living water” ceaselessly “replenishes” the field of man’s heart, while man’s “wellspring of living water” competes against God without scruple; the two are irreconcilable, and it provides to people in God’s stead with impunity, while man cooperates with it without any consideration of the dangers involved. And to what effect? He coldly casts God to one side, and places Him far away, where people will pay Him no heed, deeply fearful that He will attract their attention, and profoundly afraid that God’s wellspring of living water will entice man, and gain man. Thus, after experiencing many years of worldly concerns, he connives and intrigues against God, and even makes God the target of his castigation. It is as if God has become like a log in his eye, and he is desperate to grab God and place Him in the fire to be refined and cleansed. Seeing God’s discomfort, man beats his chest and laughs, he dances for joy, and says that God has also been plunged into refinement, and says he will scorch clean the filthy impurities of God, as if only this is rational and sensible, as if only these are the fair and reasonable methods of Heaven. This violent behavior of man seems both deliberate and unconscious. Man reveals both his ugly face and his hideous, filthy soul, as well as the pitiable look of a beggar; after rampaging far and wide, he adopts a pathetic appearance and begs for Heaven’s forgiveness, resembling a supremely pitiable pug. Man always acts in unexpected ways, he always “rides on the back of a tiger to scare others,”[a] he is always acting a part, he gives not the slightest consideration to God’s heart, nor does he make any comparison to his own status. He merely silently opposes God, as if God has wronged him, and ought not to treat him like that, and as if Heaven is without eyes and deliberately making things difficult for him. Thus does man ever secretly carry out vicious plots, and he does not relax his demands of God in the slightest, looking on with predatory eyes, glaring furiously at God’s every move, never thinking that he is the enemy of God, and hoping that the day will come when God parts the fog, makes things clear, saves him from the “tiger’s mouth,” and redresses his grievances. Even today, people still do not think they are playing the role of opposing God that has been played by so many throughout the ages; how could they know that, in all they do, they have long since gone astray, that all they understood has long since been engulfed by the seas.
Who has ever accepted the truth? Who has ever welcomed God with open arms? Who has ever happily wished for the appearance of God? Man’s behavior has long since decayed, and his defilement has long since left the temple of God unrecognizable. Man, meanwhile, still carries on with his own work, ever looking down his nose at God. It is as if his opposition to God has become set in stone, and unchangeable, and as a result, he would rather be cursed than suffer any more mistreatment of his words and actions. How could people such as this know God? How could they find rest with God? And how could they be fit to come before God? There is, undoubtedly, nothing wrong with devoting oneself to God’s management plan—but why do people always put God’s work and God’s entirety to the back of their minds while selflessly devoting their own blood and tears? People’s spirit of selfless devotion is, undoubtedly, precious—but how could they know that the “silk” they spin is utterly incapable of representing what God is? People’s good intentions are, undoubtedly, precious and rare—but how could they swallow the “priceless treasure”? Each among you should think over your past: Why have you never been apart from heartless chastisement and curses? Why are people always on such “intimate terms” with majestic words and righteous judgment? Is God really trying them? Is God deliberately refining them? And how do people enter amidst refinement? Do they truly know God’s work? What lessons have people learned from God’s work and their own entry? May people not forget God’s exhortation, and may they have insight into God’s work, identify it clearly, and properly manage their own entry.
1. “Ravages” is used to expose the disobedience of mankind.
2. “Met with fierce brows and the cool defiance of a thousand wagging fingers, head bowed, serving people like a willing ox” was originally a single sentence, but here is split into two in order to make things clearer. The first part of the sentence refers to the actions of man, whilst the second indicates the suffering undergone by God, and that God is humble and hidden.
3. “Prejudice” refers to people’s disobedient behavior.
4. “Take absolute power” refers to people’s disobedient behavior. They hold themselves up high, enshackle others, making them follow them and suffer for them. They are the forces that are hostile to God.
5. “Puppet” is used to ridicule those who do not know God.
6. “Snowballing” is used to highlight people’s lowly behavior.
7. “Cannot tell chalk from cheese” indicates when people twist God’s will into something satanic, broadly referring to behavior in which people reject God.
8. “Confuses black with white” refers to mixing up the truth with illusions, and righteousness with evil.
9. “Bandit” is used to indicate that people are senseless and lack insight.
10. “Scraps and leftovers” is used to indicate behavior in which people oppress God.
11. “Incensed” refers to the ugly face of man that is irate and exasperated.
12. “Without scruple” refers to when people are reckless, and have not the slightest reverence toward God.
13. “Priceless treasure” refers to the entirety of God.
a. This is translated based on the source text “hú jiǎ hǔ wēi,” which is a Chinese idiom. It refers to a story in which a fox scares away other animals by walking in a tiger’s company, thus “borrowing” the fear and prestige that the tiger commands. This is a metaphor, used here to refer to people “borrowing” someone else’s prestige to frighten or oppress other people.