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Ragged Garment

Ragged  Garment



“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”(Isaiah 64:6)
When I was writing an article about the difference between Eastern and Western culture, I thought over the difference between Chinese medicine and Western medicine. I found that the principle of Western medicine was pretty similar with the concept of ‘control’ in psychoanalysis. When those bad things, ‘dirty’ stuff or even, let’s use ‘-A’ to represent these all, appear in the consciousness, some people might suppress them unto the part of their subconscious. As a matter of fact these things, i.e. -A as I mentioned previously, will find some other ways to express its existence, via dream, your daily behavior or intercourse with people. And this way can be even more powerful to distract or make influence on you.
The same shall apply to Western medicine, as the philosophy treat virus and bacteria as dreadful enemies. So we knew the invention of antibiotics. However we know another fact as well: today Western countries established some certain laws to prevent the use and abuse of antibiotics, to stop giving birth of super drug-fast bacteria. The heavier control you impose on, the greater disorder will be generated.


Why? These negative thoughts, negative factors, -A’s, or the virus/bacteria in the prospective of Western medicine, they are in fact part of yourself. Now you are so desperate to kill them, they will definitely grow stronger. You have to be strong enough to kill them (in psychoanalysis, impose heavier control), but THEY are YOU, and YOU are THEM! You grew stronger, same as them. In conclusion, this is such a circle of pain and suffering. Finally you will be destroyed and killed by the great disorder.

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Doesn’t this apply also, on the salvation of humanity? In Matthew Jesus made such a parable: No one sews a patch of unstrung cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.


The righteousness of man, the instinctive logic hidden in the subconscious, any values you hold, is merely a garment, which looks so nice. But when this garment starts to turn shabby and ugly, you pick up all kinds of rules and sound moralities principles to make a repair. And it works, the garment has been sewed up with all kinds of patches you can see and find anywhere. The garment was no longer the original form it used to be. Are you willing to insist on your inborn logics and your own righteousness and use them to cope with any hardships, or pertinacious problems of yourself? The more work you make on such sewing and repairing, the more probabilities this garment will be broken apart, because different kinds of patches vary on the pulling force imposing on the original garment. Let’s say, you cherish money and fame as the most important.


Perhaps then the “Thick Black Theory” is your obvious choice. However when your practice on this had reach a high degree of professional proficiency as your face is thick as castle walls (extremely shameless) and your heart is black as coal (extremely ruthless), you are no longer who you are. Because you disown all you closest relatives and friends, and you can be callous and cruel to anyone you can tell. Are you going to insist your own logic, and everything you value? Do you still wear this ragged garment? The sin of man is same as the nature of this garment, that it will grow dirty and ragged. When man comes to the end of his wit, everything he values, come to an end as it was written in chapter 2 verses 31-35 in Daniel: an enormous statue make of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay, smashed by a stone.



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In God’s eyes, the righteousness of human is merely like a piece of ragged garment. The wind blows, it smashed itself, and scattered around. Man became naked and was so ashamed. Nothing can cover the sin of man. In Genesis chapter 3 we have seen such an episode of our earliest ancestor. Man might be respected from his appearance, but in God’s eye it was nothing more than inherent sin. These two phenomena coexist.
For it is a life that will sin, nothing can redeem the end of going to perish even the righteousness of man. This is like the ball casted under the force of gravity. It will abrade the bearing sooner or later, due to the fact that it is not an absolute sphere. Let’s raise another metaphor: a lame creature can never walk along a straight line. For it is a life that will sin, no matter how big your resolution is set to tackle with your sin, you will be backfired by the sin which grew with the same effort as much your resolution, in accordance with the statement at the very beginning. Therefore under the fact that man cannot pay off the sin by himself, he can only seek the righteousness of Christ to cover his own, crucify his sinful self by Christ’s righteousness. Then a broken soul might be removed and a new life to be made.
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In Luke 15:11-31 the parable of the lost son describes such a scenario: a prodigal son spent his part of property and turned to his father. The father hurried up to cover his son with the best robe. Regarding to how do the righteousness of Christ tackle with sin and thereby this new garment would not become shabby or ragged, let’s leave it as a mystery. In The Consolation of Philosophy which was written by Boethius, there was such a word:  the higher power of understanding includes the lower, but the lower never rises to the higher.
 “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:8-10)



Written by: Bether Chen

(Translated by the writer from original Chinese text)

Photo by :  Tom Wells

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