By Zhang Jie
Waking Up is a 2018 crosstalk released by the Christian Church. In the opening scene, the self-introduction of Just Awake (the leading role of the crosstalk) creates a happy atmosphere. Then she introduces her partner About To Wake (the supporting role of the crosstalk). Their well-coordinated cooperation has us in convulsions. Just Awake’s words “Although some people are awake, their hearts are still in deep sleep,” while echoing the theme, create the suspense, arousing our curiosity.
Their humorous dialogues not only show their identity as a preacher, but also express their feelings of yearning for the Lord’s return. In the next scene, Just Awake plays several roles herself and vividly playacts how the believers discuss the way of the Lord’s coming. Her performance conveys the focus of the debate: When the Lord returns, will He descend with the clouds or knock at the door in some special way? However, no one can give a clear answer. The words of Just Awake, “My pastor never explained this to me,” express her embarrassment and helplessness when facing the believers’ confusion and reflect her admiration and worship for the pastors and elders.
Aside from making us laugh, the humorous dialogues in the crosstalk show the present situation of the religious community: The pastors and elders either explain the biblical knowledge and theory or tell believers to watch and wait for the Lord to descend on a cloud, but avoid expounding how the Lord will knock at the door. The believers not only fail to gain the supply of the truth but involuntarily accept the notion “Anyone who is not thearriving upon a cloud is a false .” So, as a preacher, Just Awake shuts Sister Chen who comes to preach the kingdom gospel outside the door based on the excuse that she hasn’t seen the Lord descend upon a cloud, which reflects that the attitude—of refusing to listen, see and investigate—has already prevailed in religious communities, and suggests their true attitude toward welcoming the return of the Lord. Meanwhile, it also reminds me of those Jewish faithful who blindly listened to the teachings of the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees, refused to accept the salvation of the Lord Jesus, and condemned and abandoned the Lord Jesus because He was not called the Messiah. The bitter lesson of them is really sobering.
In peals of laughter, the topic of the conversation gradually becomes serious. I couldn’t help thinking of the gospel movie Knocking at the Door I once watched, in which the protagonist Yang Aiguang behaves the same way as Just Awake does. There is a scene in the movie worth mentioning: The witness says to Yang Aiguang, “Now everyone expects the Lord to descend upon a cloud. This agrees with the Lord’s words. But the Lord’s prophecy of His return indoes not only refer to this aspect. The Lord also prophesied: ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). ‘If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I will come on you’ (Revelation 3:3). If the Lord returns in the last days, descending directly on a cloud, how do you explain those prophecies, and how exactly do they come true?” The prophecies mentioned above convey that the Lord will come silently as “a thief.” Instead of letting everyone know His return, the Lord will let some people first know that and make them testify to more people of this news. So, we should be cautious when it comes to the return of the Lord. In addition, the two actresses’ performances provoke our thought: If we determine that the Lord’s coming is His resurrected spiritual body descending on a cloud without seeking and investigating whether there is another way in which He returns, will we lose the opportunity of welcoming His return?
In the crosstalk, the persuasion of Sister Chen from behind the door awakens Just Awake’s sleeping heart. After a period of investigation, Just Awake becomes enlightened and gets to know that inthere are not only prophecies of the Lord’s return publicly descending on a cloud, but also there are some prophecies about the Lord’s descending secretly: “For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west; so shall also the coming of be” (Matthew 24:27). “For as the lightning, that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines to the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:24-25). “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). At the same time, this sends an important message to the audience: In the last days, the Lord will incarnate the second time and appear as the Son of man to do work. He will use His words to knock at the door of man’s heart. Only when the Lord is incarnated to do His work will He suffer many hardships and be rejected by this generation; if it were the spiritual body of the Lord appearing, all peoples would drop to the ground to worship Him, and no one would dare resist and condemn Him, much less reject Him. Then, these prophecies wouldn’t be fulfilled.
After hearing Just Awake’s experience, About To Wake also awakens from her confusion, and she comes to know that the Lord came in secret long ago, and that He incarnated to express His words. The key to welcoming the Lord’s return is being thewho listen out for God’s voice and seek what the Spirit says to the churches. This is completely in accordance with the prophecy recorded in Revelation: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7). Let’s think back to the past: People like Peter, John, Matthew and Philip at that time didn’t know the Lord Jesus was the Messiah. But, seeing that the Lord Jesus’ words were full of authority and power and came from the Holy Spirit, they followed Him without being bound by the Pharisees. These saints’ deeds are admirable; they are the exemplars for those who seek the Lord’s appearance and work to follow.
The chorus in the end gives us a fresh feeling. The beautiful melody and lyrics “Since we are searching for the footprints of God, we must search for, for the words of God, for the utterances of God” knock at the door to the heart of everyone who is still waiting for the Lord’s coming.
The crosstalk Waking Up breaks up our notions and imaginations about the return of the Lord. When the churches are a widespread desolation, devoid of, and believers have nowhere to go, it, like a cardiac stimulant, awakens our hearts, allowing us to understand the mystery of the Lord’s knocking at the door. At the same time, the crosstalk also serves as a warning for those who are still deep in sleep: If we do not believe in the Lord based on His words, but instead blindly listen to the words of the pastors and elders, and stubbornly cling to our own conceptions, then we will be forsaken and eliminated by the Lord. This is the saddest thing of all.
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