50. A Bitter Lesson From Following Man Instead of God
By Theresa, Germany
When I first became a church leader, I was really happy to see that Callie would be supervising my work. I had heard her fellowship in gatherings before and felt that she had a really good understanding of God’s words, that her fellowship was clear and she was good at talking about self-knowledge. The other brothers and sisters also said that she had good caliber and pursued the truth. Also, she had been a leader the entire time I’d known her, so I really admired her; I felt like she pursued the truth and had the reality of the truth, that in everything she did, she probably sought to act in accordance with the principles. So as long as Callie was the one arranging a task for me, I’d go take care of it immediately. But later on, after working with her for a period of time, I found that she didn’t get practical work done, and in general didn’t fellowship on the truth with us or ask us about our states or any difficulties in our work. When someone mentioned issues to her, she would either disdainfully say so-and-so was lacking caliber or so-and-so had an arrogant disposition and wasn’t compliant. If she didn’t address the issue by scolding them, she’d just change their duty. That left a lot of brothers and sisters feeling constrained by her. I felt that she appeared to have some issues, but then I just figured that she was probably stressed from being too busy with her duty, and I didn’t give it much more thought. Since I looked up to her and admired her, and I wasn’t seeking the truth in my actions, before I knew it I was doing evil alongside her.
One time Callie came to see me out of the blue and said there was an extremely important matter that I needed to go attend to right away—some brothers and sisters had told an upper leader that there was a sister in our church who was sharing the gospel in an unprincipled way. Callie said to me, “First go and deal with her and dissect the nature of her behavior, and then change her duty.” I was thinking that that sister was just learning how to share the gospel, so the reason this problem was cropping up was because there were some principles she hadn’t grasped yet. Just directly dismissing her wasn’t the right approach—shouldn’t we fellowship with her and help her first? But knowing how long Callie had been a leader, I thought she must have a more accurate view of things, so I went to dismiss that sister, like Callie said. There was another time when a gathering group needed to choose a group leader, and Callie told me that Joan couldn’t be a candidate because there were some security risks with her. Joan wasn’t willing to accept this arrangement and expressed her dissatisfaction in a later gathering. After Callie found about it, without even fellowshiping on the truth with Joan, she just said that she didn’t have a good disposition and asked me to collect the brothers’ and sisters’ assessments of her right away. Later, Callie said Joan wouldn’t let go of this and was nitpicking at leaders’ and workers’ faults, and didn’t self-reflect or gain self-awareness. So based on her behavior, she should be barred from attending gatherings and spend time at home in reflection. At the time I also felt that Joan was pretty arrogant, but I didn’t look into whether she really was behaving like that all the time, much less fellowship and help her. I just went along with what Callie said and forbade her from attending gatherings. There was another time later on when Callie and her partners suddenly called me and a few other church leaders together to read us an assessment of Adalyn, who was in charge of general affairs. She said Adalyn was an antichrist and asked us to share our opinions, whether we agreed with expelling her. I was pretty shocked to hear that. I’d had a couple of interactions with Adalyn, and she’d seemed to really take on a burden in her duty—how could she become an antichrist? Callie and her partners said that Adalyn was extremely arrogant and all her work was to gain power. She didn’t put her heart into her own work, but was always sharing fellowship on the truth with the brothers and sisters from other churches to resolve their issues. Callie said she was just trying to win people over, and that she was doing this to mislead people and establish a place for herself in people’s hearts, and so on. Hearing from the assessments that Adalyn frequently shared fellowship to address problems, I thought to myself, “That seems pretty normal to me. How could that make her an antichrist?” But then again, I thought I’d only encountered Adalyn a couple of times, while Callie and her co-workers were in touch with her a lot in their duties. They must have a better understanding than me, and since Callie understood the truth, and her view of things was more accurate, not to mention that she had discussed and determined this with several co-workers, it had to be right. So, without doing any seeking, I expressed support for expelling Adalyn.
Then one day I suddenly heard that Callie and some other co-workers had been dismissed. This was quite a surprise for me and I had no idea why it had happened. An upper leader came to speak with me before long, saying I’d been reported by some brothers and sisters as well. She also said that banning Joan from attending gatherings was not in line with the principles, that it was oppressing her. The leader asked me to take her back into the church and fellowship with the others about the incident. I was taken aback that I’d handled things with Joan incorrectly, because it was something that Callie and the others had all reached agreement on. How could it be wrong? If so, wasn’t that disrupting and disturbing the work of the church? I’d never imagined that I could be running around busy with my duty day after day, yet ultimately cause a disruption. I felt afraid, uneasy, and really uncomfortable. I prayed to God, “Oh God! This is really unexpected and I don’t know what Your will is in this. Please guide me to learn whatever lesson I can.” I didn’t have any significant self-awareness at the time, but I had, after all, treated Joan in an unprincipled way. That was unfair and was very hurtful for her. So the following day, I apologized to Joan and took her back into the church. I also acknowledged my mistake to the other brothers and sisters. A brother said to me, very disappointed, “You’re a church leader, but not only did you fail to protect the brothers and sisters, you also went along with Callie in doing evil. You’re on a destructive path and you’re going to drag us all down into hell along with you. I just can’t trust you anymore.” What he said went straight to the heart for me and was really upsetting, but I knew that situation had to have come from God, so I should submit to it.
And so, I calmed myself down and reflected: Why did I follow Callie in doing evil—where did the problem actually lie? I read a passage of God’s words later on that opened my eyes a bit. God’s words say, “What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not adore the loveliness or wisdom of Christ, but those libertines who wallow in the filth of the world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but you admire those corpses that hunt for offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but you gladly throw yourself into the arms of those reckless antichrists, though they only supply you with flesh, words, and control. Even now, your heart still turns toward them, toward their reputation, toward their status, toward their influence. And yet you continue to hold an attitude whereby you find the work of Christ hard to swallow and you are unwilling to accept it. This is why I say that you lack the faith to acknowledge Christ. The reason you have followed Him to this day is only because you had no other option. A series of lofty images are forever towering in your heart; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart, and forever undeserving of reverence. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Are You a True Believer in God?). What God reveals in His words helped me see that although I was a believer, God had no place in my heart. What I worshiped was status and power, a lofty image and someone who is a good talker. When I initially saw that Callie was gifted and articulate, that she could fellowship well and had been a leader for a long time, I mistakenly believed she understood the truth and had the reality of the truth, so whatever she did had to be in line with the principles. That’s why, when she arranged for me to do something, I just went and did what she said without giving it a second thought, or even seeking the principles of the truth. I especially had never considered applying discernment to her. On the surface, I was reading God’s words every day and working on my duty from morning till night, but the principles I applied in my duty and my standard for evaluating things weren’t based on God’s words. Instead, I listened to Callie in all things and did whatever she said. Just like when I handled the matter of that sister who was sharing the gospel: I had a sense at the time that just directly dismissing her wasn’t appropriate, but since that was Callie’s arrangement, I denied myself and blindly followed her. And I didn’t seek the principles of the truth in the matter of Joan either, but just did what Callie wanted, banning her from gatherings. Then there was the matter of voting on Adalyn’s expulsion. Hearing Callie say that Adalyn was an antichrist, though it didn’t make sense to me and seemed problematic, I thought that Callie had discernment and better insight into people and things than I did. It was also something that she and other co-workers had decided together through fellowship, so I didn’t think they could be wrong. I did evil alongside Callie even in such a huge matter as expelling someone; I agreed to kick Adalyn out of the church, nearly ruining her chance at salvation. I didn’t find out until later that Adalyn had a sense of righteousness, and she had exposed and reported the evil deeds of Callie and her gang. They not only refused to accept that, but worked behind the scenes to retaliate against her and get her kicked out. I wasn’t intentionally punishing Adalyn like they had, but I didn’t seek the truth, either. I took a stand that directly helped Callie and the others retaliate against and do harm to Adalyn. I had a part in their evil. In my faith, there was no place in my heart for God or His words; I just worshiped talent, experience, power, and status. I listened to anyone with status and authority, revolving around them like a lackey. I wasn’t a true believer at all. God is a God who hates evil, and I believed in God but was worshiping and following a person, even capable of following her in doing evil and going against God. At that point I realized that this was a serious problem of mine, and if I didn’t repent, I would certainly be rejected and cast out by God. I learned later on that Callie and the people she was working with didn’t do practical work, were rash and autocratic, and arbitrarily oppressed and lashed out at others. They wantonly edited the brothers’ and sisters’ assessments, embellishing them, fabricating evidence, in an effort to expel Adalyn, who had exposed and reported them. They controlled elections through covert manipulations, and promoted and dismissed people as they wished. They’d committed a great deal of evil; it was determined that they were antichrists and were permanently expelled from the church. The leader then asked the other brothers and sisters for their opinions on how I should be handled. Based on how I’d been behaving in my duty and the background of my actions, they said I’d been misled and agreed to give me a chance to repent and to let me stay in the church and keep doing a duty. I was really grateful. I’d been acting without seeking the truth, going along with antichrists in their evil, but the church didn’t kick me out. I was still given an opportunity to repent. I was really grateful to God for His mercy.
Later I read some of God’s words that gave me some discernment over the essence of Callie and her gang. God’s words say, “What is the main objective of an antichrist when they attack and exclude a dissenter? They seek to create a situation in the church where there are no voices contrary to their own, in which their power, their leadership status, and their words are absolute. Everyone must heed them, and even if they have a difference of opinion, they must not express it, but let it fester in their heart. Anyone who dares to openly disagree with them becomes the antichrist’s enemy, and they will think of any way they can to make things hard for them, and can’t wait to make them disappear. This is one of the ways that antichrists attack and exclude a dissenter in order to shore up their status and protect their power. They think, ‘It’s fine for you to have different opinions, but you can’t go around talking about them as you please, much less compromise my power and status. If you have something to say, you can say it to me in private. If you say it in front of everyone and cause me to lose face, you are asking to be snubbed, and I’ll have to take care of you.’ What kind of disposition is this? Antichrists do not permit others to speak freely. If they have an opinion—whether about the antichrist or anything else—they must keep it to themselves; they must consider the antichrist’s face. If not, the antichrist will brand them an enemy, and attack and exclude them. What kind of nature is this? It is the nature of an antichrist. And why do they do this? They do not allow the church to have any alternative voices, they do not permit any dissenters in the church, they do not allow God’s chosen ones to openly fellowship the truth and identify people. What they fear most is being exposed and identified by people; they are constantly trying to consolidate their power and the status they have in people’s hearts, which they feel must never be shaken. They could never tolerate anything that threatens or affects their pride, reputation, or status and value as a leader. Is this not a manifestation of the vicious nature of antichrists? Not content with the power they already possess, they consolidate and secure it and seek eternal domination. Not only do they want to control others’ behavior, but also their hearts” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Two). Reading God’s words gave me some understanding of antichrists’ vicious dispositions. Wanting to secure their own positions, they see as enemies those who have discernment over them, who are able to give them suggestions and expose them, and will stop at nothing to lash out at them and oppress them. They even put false accusations of all sorts of wrongdoing on them to get them removed from the church to achieve their goal of holding onto their power in the church. This is the most insidious and malevolent aspect of antichrists. I could see that antichrists have vicious humanity, fierce dispositions, and really despise the truth and all positive things. Callie and the others had behaved exactly like what God describes. When some brothers and sisters gained discernment, then gave them suggestions or reported them, they not only failed to accept this from God and reflect on themselves, but wantonly suppressed them and had them kicked out. Adalyn noticed that they were violating the principles in their actions, so she reported and exposed them, after which they started suppressing her, and preparing materials to have her kicked out of the church. But their evidence was insufficient and it wasn’t approved by the church. They wouldn’t give up, but in an effort to get rid of Adalyn they even edited the others’ assessments of her, embellishing things and twisting the facts, claiming Adalyn fellowshiping and helping others was her being an antichrist leading people astray. They slapped labels on her and made arbitrary condemnations; they wouldn’t rest until they’d gotten Adalyn removed from the church. These antichrists were just like the great red dragon, oppressing and attacking anyone who disagrees with them, framing them and doing them harm just to solidify their own positions. They wouldn’t allow any other voices in a church that they held power over, and would punish anyone who gave them suggestions. And since Carson, another church member, would frequently suggest things to them and call out their issues, they worked against him behind the scenes, getting him to self-isolate and reflect on himself, and not allowing him to do a duty. Fuming with rage, they even said that though he was isolated at home, they still wouldn’t let go, and insisted on clearing him out of the church, and wouldn’t stop until they had. There was another church leader who suffered from their punishment and oppression because she had a different opinion on clearing Carson out—they dismissed her from her duty.
I saw how vicious Callie and her group of antichrists really were, that they were capable of doing all sorts of inhumane things to hurt the brothers and sisters so that they could keep hold of their positions. They weren’t even human. I asked myself: How could I have adulated and followed such a malevolent antichrist in doing evil with her? Why did I, as a believer, still worship and follow a human being? Why did I idolize an antichrist who was doing so much evil? Later through prayer and seeking, I gained some understanding of the root of my failure. I read this in God’s words: “Some people are able to bear hardships, can pay the price, are outwardly very well-behaved, are quite well-respected, and enjoy the admiration of others. Would you say that this kind of outward behavior can be regarded as putting the truth into practice? Could one determine that such people are satisfying God’s will? Why is it that time and time again people see such individuals and think that they are satisfying God, walking the path of putting the truth into practice, and keeping to God’s way? Why do some people think this way? There is only one explanation for it. What explanation is that? It is that for a great many people, certain questions—such as what it means to put the truth into practice, what it means to satisfy God, and what it means to genuinely possess the reality of the truth—are not very clear. Thus, there are some people who are often deceived by those who outwardly seem spiritual, noble, lofty, and great. As for people who can speak eloquently of letters and doctrines, and whose speech and actions seem worthy of admiration, those who are deceived by them have never looked at the essence of their actions, the principles behind their deeds, or what their goals are. Moreover, they have never looked at whether these people truly submit to God, nor have they ever determined whether or not these people genuinely fear God and shun evil. They have never discerned the essence of the humanity of these people. Rather, beginning with the first step of getting acquainted with them, they have, little by little, come to admire and venerate these people, and in the end, these people become their idols. Furthermore, in some people’s minds, the idols whom they worship—and who they believe can abandon their families and jobs, and who seem superficially able to pay the price—are the ones who are truly satisfying God and who can really attain good outcomes and good destinations. In their minds, these idols are the ones whom God praises” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve). “There is only one root cause which makes people have such ignorant actions and viewpoints, or one-sided opinions and practices—and today I will tell you about it: The reason is that, although people may follow God, pray to Him every day, and read His utterances every day, they do not actually understand His will. Herein lies the root of the problem. If someone understood God’s heart and knew what He likes, what He loathes, what He wants, what He rejects, what kind of person He loves, what kind of person He dislikes, what kind of standard He uses when making demands of people, and what kind of approach He takes for perfecting them, then could that person still have their own personal opinions? Could people like this simply go and worship someone else? Could an ordinary human become their idol? People who understand God’s will possess a slightly more rational viewpoint than that. They are not going to arbitrarily idolize a corrupted person, nor will they, while walking the path of putting the truth into practice, believe that blindly adhering to a few simple rules or principles is tantamount to putting the truth into practice” (The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. How to Know God’s Disposition and the Results His Work Shall Achieve). “Regardless of their rank among the leadership, leaders and workers are still common people. If you see them as your immediate superiors, if you feel that they are superior to you, that they are more competent than you, and that they should lead you, that they are in all ways a cut above anyone else, then that is wrong—it is your delusion. And what are the consequences that this delusion leads to? This will lead you unconsciously to measure your leaders against requirements that do not conform with reality, and to be unable to treat correctly the problems and deficiencies they have; at the same time, without your knowing it, you will also be profoundly drawn to their flair, gifts and talents, such that before you know it, you are worshiping them, and they have become your Gods. That path, from the moment they start to become your role model, the object of your worship, to the moment that you become one of their followers, is one that will lead you unconsciously away from God. And even as you gradually move away from God, you will still believe that you are following God, that you are in the house of God, that you are in the presence of God. But actually, you have been drawn away by minions of Satan, by antichrists, and you won’t even sense it—which is a very dangerous state of affairs” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Six). God’s words exposed my fallacious thinking. I assessed whether people pursued the truth or not just based on their external behavior, but I didn’t exercise discernment over their nature and essence, or look at their goals and motivations behind their actions. I thought that if a person was able to make sacrifices, expend themselves, fellowship on their understanding of God’s words, and express a lot of self-awareness, seeming like a very spiritual person, then they were someone who pursued the truth and had the reality of the truth. That’s why when I saw in my interactions with Callie that she was good at fellowshiping and well-spoken, and her understanding that she shared in gatherings made a lot of sense, I thought she pursued the truth and had the reality of the truth. Even more pathetic, I mistakenly believed that having been a leader for all that time meant she pursued the truth. Because of all these erroneous beliefs, I went from not knowing her, to admiring and worshiping her, to ultimately going along with her in doing evil. I didn’t evaluate her or try to discern her essence according to God’s words, but was going by my own notions and imaginings. Though I was a believer, I worshiped and followed a mere person. I’d followed an antichrist, committing so much evil. I was incredibly numb and foolish! When I expressed support for expelling Adalyn from the church, it wasn’t as if I had no awareness at all. I had some suspicions, but I didn’t go with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and seek the truth. Instead, I went by notions and imaginings, thinking that leaders and workers understand the truth and have its reality, and that they can see issues accurately. So without trying to apply any discernment I blindly went along with Callie and agreed to kicking Adalyn out. In such a major matter that directly involves whether someone can attain salvation or not, inappropriately removing someone could destroy their chance at salvation—that’s a heinous sin! I had treated her life like nothing, rashly agreeing to her expulsion. She was a true believer, but I had nearly gotten her removed from the church. What a huge transgression! I not only owed her a debt, but I had offended God. I wasn’t intentionally doing evil and punishing Adalyn, but by casually agreeing, I was harming her along with the antichrist Callie—I was the antichrist’s accomplice. Though it was nothing more than just declaring a stance, it revealed a very vicious nature within me and that I was utterly lacking love for others. Brothers and sisters like Adalyn, who have a sense of righteousness and are able to uphold the work of the church should receive protection, because God saves those who pursue the truth and have a sense of righteousness. But I was acting as Satan’s minion, agreeing to her expulsion. By acting that way, I was standing on the side of those antichrist demons, working against God. As a church leader, I should have been upholding the church’s interests in all things, and protecting the brothers and sisters from being harmed by antichrists and evildoers. But I followed them in wantonly doing evil, oppressing people and getting them kicked out. This was harmful to the brothers and sisters. It was scary for me to see that I’d done such evil things. I didn’t seek the truth or have a heart of reverence for God; I’d been totally unaware of committing such great evil, even thinking I was upholding the church’s work. I was so muddled and detestable! It was just like what that brother had said, that I was on a path of destruction and would drag others down into hell with me. Based on my behavior, dismissing me and removing me from the church wouldn’t be overboard, but God gave me a chance to repent, allowing me to continue doing a duty in the church. I was really grateful for God’s mercy and salvation for me. At the same time, I also genuinely understood that focusing on external gifts and abilities, blindly adoring a leader, worshiping power, and not seeking the truth in the face of problems truly is a dangerous thing. I could be misled and used by antichrists and evildoers at any time. In essence, by worshiping and following a person, I was following Satan and being an enemy to God. If I still didn’t repent, I’d be rejected and cast out by God. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that this failure of mine wasn’t simply revealing some corruption or making a mistake—it was a great evil, and I’d nearly done myself in.
I read more of God’s words later that showed me the right approach to leaders and workers. God’s words say, “When someone is chosen to be a leader by the brothers and sisters, or is promoted by the house of God to do a certain piece of work or perform a certain duty, this does not mean that they have a special status or identity, or that the truths they understand are deeper and more numerous than those of other people—much less that this person is able to submit to God, and will not betray Him. It does not mean, either, that they know God, and are someone who fears God. They have attained none of this, in fact; the promotion and cultivation is merely promotion and cultivation in the most straightforward sense, and is not equivalent to them having been destined and validated by God. Their promotion and cultivation simply means they have been promoted, and await cultivation. And the ultimate outcome of this cultivation depends on whether this person pursues the truth, and on whether they are capable of choosing the path of pursuing the truth. Thus, when someone in the church is promoted and cultivated to be a leader, they are merely promoted and cultivated in the straightforward sense; it does not mean that they are already a qualified leader, or a competent one, that they are already capable of undertaking the work of a leader, and can do real work—that is not the case. Most people do not see clearly about these things, and they look up to these promoted ones relying on their imaginings, but this is a mistake. No matter how many years they may have believed, do those who are promoted really possess the reality of truth? Not necessarily. Are they able to bring to fruition the work arrangements of the house of God? Not necessarily. Do they have a sense of responsibility? Are they possessed of commitment? Are they able to submit to God? When they encounter an issue, are they able to search for the truth? All of this is unknown. Do these people have a heart that fears God? And just how great is their fear of God? Are they liable to follow their own will when they do things? Are they able to seek God? During the time that they perform the work of leaders, do they regularly and frequently come before God to search for the will of God? Are they able to guide people in entry into the reality of the truth? They are certainly incapable of such things right away. They haven’t received training and have too little experience, so they are incapable of these things. This is why promoting and cultivating someone doesn’t mean they already understand the truth, nor is it saying that they are already capable of performing their duty satisfactorily. … What is the point of Me saying this? In order to tell everyone that they must correctly approach the promotion and cultivation of various types of talents in God’s house, and must not be harsh in their demands of these people. Naturally, people must not be unrealistic in their opinion of them either. It is foolish to be overly appreciative or reverential of them, nor is it humane or realistic to be overly harsh in your demands toward them. So what is the most rational way to act toward them? To think of them as ordinary people and, when there is a problem that needs to be searched, to fellowship with them and learn from each other’s strengths and complement each other. In addition, it is everyone’s responsibility to keep an eye on whether leaders and workers are doing real work, whether they use the truth to solve problems; these are the standards and principles for measuring whether a leader or worker is up to par. If they are capable of dealing with and solving general problems, then they are competent. But if they can’t even handle and fix ordinary problems, they are not fit to be a leader or worker, and must be quickly dismissed. Choose someone else, and do not delay the work of the house of God. Delaying the work of the house of God is hurting yourself and others, it is good for no one” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). I learned from God’s words that a person being elected as a leader or worker, or promoted to do some job doesn’t mean that they have the reality of the truth, that they’re devoted to God or revere Him. If they don’t pursue the truth, they will become a false leader or antichrist, and will be exposed and cast out. Leaders and workers have more chances to practice, and take on more of a burden to experience God’s work. But none of them have been perfected—they have corrupt dispositions just like everyone else, so before they’ve gained the truth and achieved dispositional change, they may be willful in their work and go against the principles. They all need to go through God’s judgment and revelation, pruning and dealing with, and to receive oversight from others. If leaders and workers do act in line with the principles of the truth and are upholding the work of the church, God’s chosen people should support them and cooperate in their work. If they go against the principles, take the wrong path, and don’t do practical work, they need to be dealt with and exposed, to see if they’re able to accept the truth, to repent and change. If they’re able to repent and change, that means they are right people and can accept the truth. But if they don’t, if they lash out at and oppress others, they are not right people and they need to be reported and exposed. Only treating leaders and workers like this according to the principles of the truth is in line with God’s will. But before, I hadn’t been looking at things based on God’s words. I didn’t have any discernment over Callie and the others, but just blindly adored them, leading to me following antichrists in doing irreparable evil. Reading God’s words gave me a path of practice, and from then on I wanted to focus on seeking principles of the truth in all things, to look at things and people according to the words of God, to stop being so foolish and ignorant and blindly following others like I had in the past.
I later noticed that when an upper leader fellowshiped with us on an election of church leaders, she was really anxious to get everything done without a focus on fellowshiping the principles of the truth. Once when she fellowshiped in a gathering on adjusting someone’s duty, by the time she finished her fellowship, just half of the church members had arrived, and then she had us state our positions. Since half of the people hadn’t heard her initial fellowship and didn’t know the relevant principles of the truth, there was no way they could announce where they stood. The gathering couldn’t continue on and it created a really awkward atmosphere. I saw she wasn’t leading the brothers and sisters to enter into the principles of the truth, but was in a rush to finish handling the matter and be done with it. I remembered my experience with being misled by an antichrist and the consequences brought about by blindly following her. I didn’t want to just arbitrarily go along with someone before I’d gained clarity on the principles. So, I sought out a few sisters for some seeking on the matter together. One of them said that this leader had handled elections in other churches the same way, not following the principles. I thought that since this leader had been carrying out work without gaining support from the others, that meant there was an issue with her. As a leader, her failure to guide us in entering into the truth would impact the entire church, so I should point out these problems to her. But then I worried that she might suppress me if I made suggestions to her. However, thinking of how I’d done evil along with antichrists in the past, I felt afraid of blindly following a person again, and failing to uphold the interests of the church. I felt really conflicted. So I came before God and prayed, seeking a path of practice. I saw this in God’s words after that: “What is the attitude that people should have in terms of how to treat a leader or worker? If what a leader or worker does is right, then you can obey them; if what they do is wrong, then you can expose them, and oppose them and raise a different opinion. If they are unable to do practical work or do wicked deeds that cause a disruption to church work, and are revealed to be a false leader, a false worker, or an antichrist, then you can discern, expose and report them” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Three). God’s words provided me with principles to put into practice. If a leader or worker is behaving inappropriately, you can give them fellowship on the truth out of love, to help them—this is in line with God’s will. Thinking over my past failures made it very clear for me that this was a chance for me to put the truth into practice. I should act in accordance with God’s word, and not hold back my suggestions because I was afraid of suffering oppression. And so, I got in touch with that leader and told her all about the problems I’d noticed in her work over that time; she accepted all of it. In a gathering a few days later, I heard her fellowship that she’d received some pointers and help from church members for her duty, and through self-reflection saw that the path she’d been on and her work had been problematic recently. The issues and flaws I’d pointed out to her were part of her reflection, and from that she sought to understand the principles and knew how to handle and approach similar problems. I was really happy and gave thanks to God for guiding me to practice the truth. I felt very at peace in my heart.
I realized through these experiences that as a believer who didn’t place importance upon seeking the truth, but blindly adulated and followed other people, I was likely to commit evil and work against God at any time. I was also able to see God’s wisdom; He allows antichrists to surface in the church so that we can develop discernment, become able to cast off Satan’s forces, and no longer be misled and controlled by antichrists. Once we can discern antichrists and stop indiscriminately worshiping them, then those antichrists’ service is complete and they can be cleared out of the church. Though I’d experienced some failures and stumbled, and it was poignant for me to think about, through these missteps I was able to shift my mistaken thinking and perspectives, which allowed me to stop blindly worshiping and following other people. I became able to seek the principles of the truth when things cropped up and seek to be someone who truly follows God. Gaining all of this was entirely because of God’s guidance. I give thanks to God!