100. How I Escaped the Constraints of Emotion
By Li Yi, China
In November of last year, I received a letter from a leader detailing how, my mother, a believer for many years, hadn’t been attending gatherings properly. She was always busying herself with making money and when she did attend gatherings here and there, she would often doze off. She rarely read God’s words, didn’t listen to sermons, held the same views as unbelievers, and her actions were fairly clearly those of a nonbeliever. The church was reviewing her situation to decide whether she should be removed, so they asked me to provide an assessment. I was quite shocked, thinking: “Has the church leader made a mistake? At least on the surface, it seems like my mom has displayed some passion and enthusiasm in her faith these years. Sometimes she even helps out other brothers and sisters when they run into problems in their lives. Surely she hasn’t gotten to the point where she deserves to be removed?” But then it occurred to me that the church always removes people according to principle and makes the decision based on a person’s overall behavior, nature and essence—it would never treat someone unjustly. My duties had taken me out of town for quite a few years, and so I wasn’t sure how my mother had been acting in the church. I ought to first accept it and submit.
After that, I began reflecting on how my mother had acted when we were together. Whenever I would return home and ask her about her state, she would intentionally avoid my questioning. She also rarely read God’s words or listened to sermons. She would say she agreed when I fellowshiped with her on the importance of reading God’s words, but afterward, she would just return to her same habits. She didn’t even attend regular gatherings to make more money. Despite my fellowshiping with her on the matter several times, she failed to change her behavior, saying that she could only rely on herself to improve her fate. What’s more, she would often get into arguments with my father over trifling matters. Whenever my dad took a harsher tone with her and wounded her pride, she’d become resentful, often cursing at my father like an unbeliever to take out her anger. She didn’t listen when I fellowshiped with her on how to live out proper humanity, saying she couldn’t help it and it wasn’t necessary to be so devout as long as one believed in God in one’s heart. Later on, I came across this passage of God’s words: “There are some people whose faith has never been acknowledged within God’s heart. In other words, God does not recognize that they are His followers, because He does not praise their beliefs. For these people, regardless of how many years they have followed God, their ideas and views have never changed; they are like the unbelievers, adhering to the unbelievers’ principles and ways of doing things and to the unbelievers’ laws of survival and faith. They have never accepted the word of God as their life, never believed that God’s word is truth, never intended on accepting God’s salvation, and never recognized God as their God. They see believing in God as some kind of amateur hobby, treating Him as mere spiritual sustenance; as such, they do not think it is worth it to try and understand God’s disposition or essence. It can be said that all that corresponds to the true God has nothing to do with these people; they are not interested, nor can they be bothered to pay heed. This is because deep in their hearts, there is an intense voice that is always telling them, ‘God is invisible and untouchable, and does not exist.’ They believe that trying to understand this sort of God would not be worth their efforts, and that in doing so they would be fooling themselves. They believe that by merely acknowledging God with words without taking any real stand or investing themselves in any real actions, they are being pretty clever. How does God look upon such people? He views them as unbelievers” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve). Through reading God’s words, I realized that nonbelievers only verbally acknowledge a belief in God without ever practicing the truth. They are of a nature and essence that dislikes the truth, and God has never acknowledged their faith. My mother had never remotely accepted the truth in her years as a believer and she believed, thought, spoke and acted just like someone without faith—didn’t that make her a nonbeliever? I should provide an honest description of her behavior. Then again, my mother had always supported my faith and, even when other family members objected or lashed out at me, she always protected me so that I could fulfill my duties in peace. She had also supported me economically throughout my years fulfilling my duties out of town. When I got sick, she took me to the hospital and trudged up and down the stairs to get me registered and fetch my medicine. Every time I came home, she’d buy me food and clothes…. I just couldn’t bring myself to write the assessment after remembering all these things. I felt so agonized and conflicted: “She is my mother and so my assessment carries a lot of weight. If I were to provide an honest description of her behavior, she’d be even more likely to be removed. Wouldn’t that be the end of her path of faith? Knowing I’d written about her nonbeliever behaviors would be heartbreaking for her, and she’d be sure to think I was heartless and ungrateful.” This thought was like having a knife put through my heart, and tears came streaming from my eyes. In the midst of my suffering, I prayed to God beseeching Him to guide me to take the right stance and stand by it.
I felt much calmer after my prayer. During that time, I happened to come across a passage of God’s words: “You should know that everything that happens to you is a great trial and the time when God needs you to bear testimony. Though they may seem unimportant from the outside, when these things happen they show whether or not you love God. If you do, you will be able to stand firm in your testimony to Him, and if you have not put the love of Him into practice, this shows you are not someone who puts the truth into practice, that you are without the truth, and without life, that you are chaff! Everything that happens to people happens when God needs them to stand firm in their testimony to Him. Though nothing major is happening to you at the moment and you do not bear great testimony, every detail of your daily life is a matter of testimony to God. If you can win the admiration of your brothers and sisters, your family members, and everyone around you; if, one day, the unbelievers come, and admire all that you do, and see that all that God does is wonderful, then you will have borne testimony. … Although you are incapable of doing great work, you are able to satisfy God. Others cannot put aside their notions, but you can; others cannot bear testimony to God during their actual experiences, but you can use your actual stature and actions to repay God’s love and bear resounding testimony to Him. Only this counts as actually loving God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Loving God Is Truly Believing in God). Pondering God’s words, I realized that having me write this assessment for my mom involved the principles of the truth. I should have accepted God’s scrutiny and obeyed Him in this matter. Instead of acting according to emotion, I should have objectively depicted my mother’s actual situation. But because of my emotional connection to her, I was reluctant to write the assessment despite being clearly aware that she had quite a few nonbeliever behaviors, afraid that she might be removed from the church and lose her chance at salvation. Wasn’t I failing to take the right stance and bear testimony? I was unwilling to stand on the side of truth in my faith and protect the church’s work, and I even safeguarded my mother due to our emotional connection—where was my fear of God? In the past, I had actively and enthusiastically dealt with those who were found to be antichrists, evildoers and nonbelievers, fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters on the significance of the work of cleansing the church, and spoken with the force of justice in exposing the negative things to protect the work of the church. Yet, in the face of my mom’s issue, I was swayed by my emotional connection to her and was unable to act according to principle. I didn’t have the least bit of the reality of the truth and my affections were too strong! Having realized all this, I didn’t feel as tormented and got working right away on the assessment, sending it off to the leader as soon as it was done.
The next day, I read in a sermon that even if someone has been a believer for several years without seeking the truth, if they haven’t caused any disturbances or interruptions, they can be temporarily spared from being removed. A ray of hope entered my heart. My mother just didn’t seek the truth, but she hadn’t caused any clear disturbances or interruptions to the church’s work. In her particular situation, she probably still had a chance to repent. I thought it was possible the church leader didn’t understand her situation. Perhaps I could write a letter emphasizing how my mother had been enthusiastically helping her brothers and sisters, or I could ask them to fellowship with her some more. Certainly, it would be better for her to keep rendering service in the church than to have her purged, and ruin her outcome. I couldn’t wait to write a letter to the local church leader, but right as I was about to start writing, I began to have second thoughts: “I don’t have a good understanding of my mom’s current behavior. If she really is failing to regularly read God’s words and is dozing off during gatherings, wouldn’t that influence the other brothers and sisters in the gatherings? Am I not just writing this letter because I have an emotional attachment to my mom and I want to protect her? But if she really is removed, then she’ll never have the opportunity to gain salvation.” In my misery, I hurriedly prayed to God, asking that He guide me to understand my improper state and learn to refrain from acting on my emotions. After prayer, I came across two passages of God’s words: “What issues relate to emotions? Number one is how you evaluate your own family, how you react to the things they do. ‘The things they do’ includes when they disturb and interrupt the church’s work, when they are judgmental about people behind their backs, when they do the things of the nonbelievers, and so on. Could you be impartial toward these things your family does? If you were asked to evaluate your family in writing, would you do so objectively and fairly, putting your own emotions aside? This relates to how you should face family members. And are you sentimental toward those you get on with or who previously helped you? Would you be objective, impartial, and precise about their actions and behavior? Would you immediately report or expose them if you discovered them disturbing and interrupting the work of the church? What’s more, are you sentimental toward those who are close to you, or who share similar interests? Would your evaluation, definition, and response to their actions and behavior be impartial and objective? And how would you react if principle dictated that the church take measures against someone who you have an emotional connection with, and these measures were at odds with your own notions? Would you obey? Would you secretly continue to liaise with them, would you still be inveigled by them, would you even be prompted by them to make excuses for them, to rationalize and defend them? Would you fall on your sword for and come to the aid of those who have been kind to you, oblivious to the principles of the truth and heedless of the interests of God’s house? This all involves various issues to do with emotions, does it not?” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). “Say, for example, your relatives or parents are believers in God, and because of evildoing, interference, or not having any acceptance of the truth, they are cleared out. But you don’t understand why, and feel extremely upset. You keep complaining that God’s house has no love, and is not fair to people. So, you should pray to God and seek the truth, and then evaluate just what kind of people these relatives are based on God’s words. If you truly understand the truth, you will be able to accurately define them, and so you will see that God is never wrong, that He is a righteous God—in which case you will have no complaints, and will be able to obey God’s arrangements, and will not try to defend your relatives or parents. This is not an attempt to sever your kinship; it is just defining what kind of people they are, and why they were cast out. If this is truly clear to you in your heart, and your perspective is correct, and in line with the truth, then you will be able to stand on the same side as God, and your view of matters will be perfectly in harmony with the words of God. If you are not able to accept the truth, and incapable of viewing people according to God’s words, and still side with the relationships and perspectives of the flesh, then you will never be able to escape this fleshly relationship, and will still treat these people as kin, as closer even than the brothers and sisters, in which case there is a conflict between your view of your family and the words of God—a contradiction, even—and in such circumstances, it would be impossible for you to stand on the side of God, and you would have notions and misunderstandings about God. Thus, if people are to achieve compatibility with God, first of all their view of matters must be in line with God’s words, they must be able to view people and things based on God’s words, and accept that God’s words are the truth, and they must be able to put aside the traditional notions of man. Regardless of what people or matter you are faced with, you must be able to maintain the same view and perspective as God, and your view and perspective must be in harmony with the truth. And with this being the case, your views and the way you approach people will not be hostile to God, and you will be capable of obedience to God, and compatibility with God. Such people could never again resist God; they are the very people that God wishes to gain” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Identify the Nature and Essence of Paul). God’s words reveal how those bound by their fleshly affections cannot practice the truth or impartially and justly evaluate their own relatives, much less act according to principles of the truth. Rather, they constantly protect, safeguard and defend their relatives, without the least bit of thought for the interests of the church. Through God’s words, I came to have some understanding of my state. I was well aware that my mother’s nature and essence were those of a nonbeliever, and that she had already become a disruption to church life. I ought to practice the truth and expose my mother’s behaviors to protect the work of the church. Yet I couldn’t let go of my emotional attachments and worried that if she were removed, she would completely lose the opportunity to gain salvation. As such, I wanted to argue on her behalf and, especially when I thought of how good she had always been to me, I sought to protect her, guard her and not reveal her behaviors. After reading that sermon, I couldn’t just purely accept the principles behind expelling and removing people from God’s house, but seized upon a loophole. I wanted the church to take a lenient attitude toward her and allow her to stay, so that perhaps she would still have a chance at attaining salvation. God’s house does the work of cleansing for the sake of the church’s purity, and to provide our brothers and sisters with a positive environment for church life free from the disruptions of Satan. Yet I let my emotional attachment get the best of me, protecting my mother without the least consideration for the work of the church or how this might harm the lives of my brothers and sisters. I was being so selfish and despicable! I had been thoroughly corrupted by Satan and lived by satanic philosophies such as “Blood is thicker than water” and “Man is not inanimate; how can he be free from emotions?” I thought that since my mom had taken good care of me growing up and supported me in fulfilling my duties, any amount of bad behavior on her part should be tolerated. As her daughter, I felt it would be very unfilial of me to just stand by and watch as she was removed. As long as there was the slightest bit of hope, I ought to fight to find a chance for her to stay in the church. Was I not flying in the face of God? In her years as a believer, my mother had never cherished God’s words, consistently attended gatherings, or practiced God’s words. Instead, she poured herself into the pursuit of worldly things and money, and even said: “I can’t be bothered to seek the truth. Making money is my most surefire option.” One time, after an old couple that had been believers for over a decade were removed for their wicked deeds and disruption of church work, she told the brothers and sisters, “Very few of us will succeed in our faith—they are removed. Sooner or later I will be, too.” At the time, I fellowshiped with her about how the church removes people according to principle and based upon their general behavior, nature and essence. I also told her that she was sowing negativity with such comments. Yet, she didn’t reflect upon herself and seemed completely indifferent. I realized that my mother had never accepted the truth in all her years in the church and didn’t even have genuine faith in God—she was just a nonbeliever. I hadn’t recognized her actual essence according to God’s words, and even stubbornly clung to my own ridiculous notions. I believed that although she hadn’t pursued the truth, as long as she wasn’t overtly disturbing and interrupting things, she could continue to render service in the church and perhaps might still have a chance at salvation. I didn’t realize that even though nonbelievers might not appear to be doing wicked deeds outwardly, their nature and essence does not cherish, but rather dislikes the truth. No matter how many years they remain in the church, they will never achieve a transformation in their life disposition or attain salvation. God’s work in the last days is to express the truth to purify and save humankind. If people do not love the truth, they will never be rid of their corrupt dispositions and sooner or later they will be cast out. I realized that I hadn’t comprehended the truth and my views and beliefs were truly absurd. It also occurred to me that nonbelievers sow their secular ideas within the church, which are completely at odds with God’s words and demands. Brothers and sisters with small stature who haven’t comprehended the truth lack discernment; they may easily be disrupted and misled by such ideas. This may cause them to wallow in weakness and negativity, and in extreme cases, their faith may waver and they may depart from God. Nonbelievers are not members of God’s house at all, they are not our brothers and sisters; they in essence belong to the devil Satan and are enemies of God. If they are not promptly cleansed from the church, they will only breed disaster. My mother had been a believer for many years, but she still didn’t read God’s words regularly, much less did she practice them. No matter how I fellowshiped with her, she still pursued worldly things and making money and disliked the truth by nature. She often spread her nonbeliever ideas and notions and disturbed church life. Even if she were given another chance, she wouldn’t truly repent. The fact that I tried to protect this member of the devil’s ilk and wanted to argue on her behalf so she could stay in the church showed that I was truly thick-witted and didn’t know right from wrong.
Later on, I came across another passage of God’s words: “God created this world and brought man, a living being unto which He bestowed life, into it. Next, man came to have parents and kin, and was no longer alone. Ever since man first laid eyes on this material world, he was destined to exist within the ordination of God. The breath of life from God supports each and every living being throughout growth into adulthood. During this process, no one feels that man is growing up under the care of God; rather, they believe that man is doing so under the loving care of his parents, and that it is his own life instinct that directs his growing up. This is because man knows not who bestowed his life, or from whence it came, much less the way in which the instinct of life creates miracles. He knows only that food is the basis on which his life continues, that perseverance is the source of his existence, and that the beliefs in his mind are the capital upon which his survival depends. Of God’s grace and provision, man is utterly oblivious, and thus does he fritter away the life bestowed upon him by God…. Not a single one of this humanity that God cares for day and night takes it upon themselves to worship Him. God only continues to work on man, for whom He holds out no expectations, as He has planned. He does so in the hope that one day, man will awaken from his dream and suddenly realize the value and meaning of life, the price God paid for all that He has given him, and the eager solicitude with which God waits for man to turn back to Him” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God Is the Source of Man’s Life). I was profoundly stirred by God’s words. God is the source of man’s life and all that I have derives from Him. It was God that cared for me and nourished me into adulthood. After that, God graced me, allowing me to come before Him and accept the watering and sustenance of His words so that I could comprehend the truth, know the meaning of life and how to conduct myself and choose the right path. This was all God’s love and salvation. God had ordained my mother to be my guardian and raise me in the material world—I should accept her care for me as it derives from God, respect her and fulfill my role as her daughter. However, when it came to matters of truth and principle, I couldn’t be influenced by emotional attachment, but I had to practice the truth and expose all of my mother’s nonbeliever behaviors. Only that would be acting conscientiously and rationally, and according to the principle of the truth. If I let my fleshly affections influence the way I conducted myself, providing love, compassion, safeguarding and protection to a nonbeliever like my mother, without sparing the slightest consideration for the work of the church or how the church life of my brothers and sisters may be disturbed, sacrificing the principles of the truth to protect my relationship with my mother, that would be rebelling against and resisting God. Only then would I truly be conscienceless and ungrateful. After coming to this realization, I felt much freer and unrestrained.
Soon after, I returned home to take care of some affairs and checked on my mom while I was in town. That night, we chatted about her recent situation and she knew that she was about to be removed by the church. When I tried to fellowship with her, she just changed the subject without commenting. After seeing she didn’t have the slightest regret for her actions, I was even more convinced that the church’s decision to remove her was entirely in line with principles. Two months later, I received another letter from the local church leader asking me to further elaborate on my prior assessment of my mother. At the time, I thought: “Could it be that my mom’s misbehavior isn’t serious enough to get her purged? If that’s the case, does that mean that, at least for now, she won’t be removed? Then again, my mom didn’t seem to have the slightest bit of regret when I fellowshiped with her two months ago. Should I tell the church leader about this?” As I went back and forth on this matter, a passage of God’s words came to mind: “If you are someone who truly believes in God, then even if you have yet to gain the truth and life, at the very least you will speak and act from the side of God; at the very least, you will not stand idly by when you see the interests of the house of God being compromised. When you have the urge to turn a blind eye, you will feel guilty, and ill at ease, and will say to yourself, ‘I can’t sit here and do nothing, I must stand up and say something, I must take responsibility, I must reveal this evil behavior, I must stop it, so that the interests of the house of God are not harmed, and the church life is not disturbed.’ If the truth has become your life, then not only will you have this courage and resolve, and will you be capable of understanding the matter completely, but you will also fulfill the responsibility you should bear for God’s work and for the interests of His house, and your duty will thereby be fulfilled. If you could consider your duty as your responsibility and obligation and as God’s commission, and you feel that this is necessary in order to face God and your conscience, would you not then be living out the integrity and dignity of normal humanity? Your deeds and behavior would be the ‘fearing God and shunning evil’ of which He speaks. You would be performing the essence of these words and living out their reality” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Through God’s words, I realized that I must be mindful of God’s will when fulfilling my duties, preserve the normal order of church life and expose those in the church who have revealed themselves as antichrists, evildoers and nonbelievers. Only in so doing would I be fulfilling my duties and responsibilities. I thought of how when Job’s wife asked him to abandon God, he was able to stand on God’s side and rebuke his wife as a “foolish woman.” Job was honest, forthright, and had a clear idea of what one should love and hate. He didn’t allow emotional attachments to influence the way he lived his life. I, too, should forsake my flesh, expose the truth as I saw it and remove nonbelievers from the church without delay. Realizing this, I wrote down all the behaviors I had observed in my mother the last time I went home. Soon after, I received a letter stating that my mother had been removed from the church. Several of her behaviors that I had detailed were mentioned. I was gratified that I hadn’t caved in to my emotions and lost my testimony. I felt peaceful and grounded.
Through this experience, I gained a clearer understanding of how God decides who to save and who to cast out based upon their nature, essence and overall behavior. This is a clear manifestation of God’s righteous disposition. We mustn’t let emotional attachments rule the way we act toward others, but should base our actions on God’s words, the principles of the truth. Only this accords with God’s will. I’m really grateful to God that I’ve achieved this new understanding and made these gains.