63. Consequences of Shunning Responsibility
One day in February 2021, a leader told me that I was to take charge of several newly established churches. I was surprised to hear this. I thought to myself: “I’ve always been doing gospel work and have never been responsible for church work. I have no experience on how to water newcomers and I can’t speak Spanish either. I’m definitely going to run into a lot of problems and difficulties and I won’t know how to solve them. Newcomers who have only just received the gospel are just like newborn babies. If they’re not watered in time, they won’t understand the truth and won’t put down roots on the true way. If they left the faith, wouldn’t I be doing evil? I could be dismissed or even cast out. The person in that role before had been let go for poor work performance. Now, these churches have just been set up, and lots of it is in an exploratory phase. The work isn’t easy. I certainly won’t be able to do it.” But I also thought of how I’d been given that duty, and that I couldn’t refuse it, so I accepted it. But I just couldn’t calm my nerves. I thought about how things had been going so well in my gospel work before. I had converted lots of people. But the current church work would be difficult, and I could be cast out if I did poorly. I had a lot of concerns and wasn’t confident I could do a good job. I always wanted to get back to preaching the gospel. So, I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to understand His will and submit.
One day, a brother reported some problems to me. He said, “More and more people are accepting God’s work of the last days. When churches were divided up, some of the church leaders were irresponsible and left some newcomers out. They don’t have group gatherings and can’t eat and drink of God’s words. Look at the messages from some of the newcomers.” When I opened up the messages he forwarded me, I saw one newcomer said, “Brother, are you from The Church of Almighty God? I’m not in the gathering group of the church. I’d like to fellowship on Almighty God’s words online. Could you help? I’m sad that I can’t eat and drink of Almighty God’s words now.” Another newcomer said, “Brother, I can’t eat and drink of Almighty God’s words. I am outside of the church, and I’m really unhappy. Could you help me find gatherings?” And some newcomers were eagerly awaiting gatherings every day, but leaders weren’t scheduling them. This brother was upset, and said, “I don’t know how you’re watering them. No matter how much work you have or how many difficulties you have, isn’t this upsetting for you when you see these brothers and sisters who have accepted the gospel but can’t attend gatherings or eat and drink of God’s words? Doesn’t seeing this make you angry? If we just took a little care of them, these newcomers wouldn’t be left stranded outside of the church.” Hearing this from him and seeing the newcomers’ messages made me feel awful, and I couldn’t hold my tears back. Because of our neglect of duty, new believers were being stranded outside of the church. They couldn’t live the church life or eat and drink of God’s words, and this was hurting their lives. But as for me, I saw all those problems in the churches, but wasn’t taking responsibility. I wasn’t responsible for the newcomers’ lives. I wasn’t thinking about how to get their church life straightened out as quickly as possible, or how to water them. I was afraid of taking on my responsibilities and just wanted to escape. I was so selfish! I thought of God’s words: “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? … Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 13). Every word from God felt like it was aimed straight at me. I felt extremely guilty. It was God’s grace that I was put in charge of the work of these churches, so I should be considerate of God’s will, be of one heart and mind with brothers and sisters to water the newcomers, so that they could regularly gather, eat and drink of God’s words, and put down roots on the true way as quickly as possible. At this time, these churches were just established and there were still lots of problems and difficulties that needed urgent attention and resolution, but I wasn’t being considerate whatsoever of God’s will. Since accepting that duty, I had only ever been thinking of my own future and about my escape routes, fearing I’d be exposed and cast out if I didn’t do a good job. I didn’t have a burden or a sense of responsibility for my duty. I was so despicable and lacking humanity! On that day, behind that brother forwarding me those newcomers’ messages was God’s will. It was to awaken my numb heart so that I’d see the responsibility I’d taken on and could have a true burden for the work. Thinking on this, I prayed to God, not wanting to think about my own future or escape routes anymore, but to lean on Him, take on my duty, seek the truth with the brothers and sisters, and resolve the churches’ problems as soon as I could.
I then arranged for some people to go and contact those newcomers who didn’t have gatherings, and arrange a church life for them. I also tried to get a real understanding of all aspects of the churches’ work. I saw in a lot of the churches that had just been established, that some of the supervisors were new to their work and didn’t know how to do it, and moreover, that some of them were just muddling through their duties, not taking care of new believers’ problems or difficulties in time, and that they needed to be helped through fellowship or to be dismissed. In particular, I saw that some newcomers were being misled by the clergy, and were being put off from attending gatherings. I also saw that these types of newcomers were not uncommon. I couldn’t help but start to worry again when I saw these issues and difficulties. I thought to myself: “If I were in charge of the church work and after a while things weren’t improving in our work, I would have an undeniable responsibility and I would certainly be exposed and cast out with time.” I was feeling more depressed the more I thought about it. Although I looked like I was always busy rushing to and fro, I felt so much pressure in my heart. At the end of the month, I saw that the number of newcomers not attending gatherings on a regular basis had grown. In an instant I felt weak and limp. I thought to myself: “I’ve just barely taken on this duty and haven’t been here long, so if I resign right away, I’ll have delayed the work less. If I keep on with it and the new believers’ problems aren’t resolved and they leave the church, I’ll have done a great evil. Then I might not only be dismissed, I might very likely not have a good destination and outcome.” The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to resign, and ultimately I decided I had to do it. When I stood up I suddenly felt incredibly dizzy and almost passed out. I’d never felt anything like that, and I wondered if it was because I’d been under too much stress lately, but I didn’t think much more on it. After one of the sisters with me knew about this, she fellowshiped with me, saying that God’s will was behind my sudden illness, and that a lesson was to be learned from it. After hearing the sister say that, I calmed down, seeking and reflecting, and I prayed to God, asking for His enlightenment to allow me to understand my corruption.
Later, I read a passage of God’s words: “Eating and drinking of God’s words, practicing prayer, accepting God’s burden, and accepting the tasks He entrusts to you—all of this is so that there may be a path before you. The more the burden of God’s entrustment weighs on you, the easier it will be for you to be perfected by Him. Some are unwilling to coordinate with others in service to God, even when they have been called upon; these are lazy people who wish only to revel in comfort. The more you are asked to serve in coordination with others, the more experience you will gain. Due to having more burdens and experiences, you will gain more opportunities to be perfected. Therefore, if you can serve God with sincerity, then you will be mindful of God’s burden; as such, you will have more opportunities to be perfected by God. It is just such a group of people that is currently being perfected. The more the Holy Spirit touches you, the more time you will devote to being mindful of God’s burden, the more you will be perfected by God, and the more you will be gained by Him—until, in the end, you will become a person whom God uses. At present, there are some who carry no burdens for the church. These people are slack and sloppy, and only care about their own flesh. Such people are extremely selfish, and they are also blind. If you cannot see this matter clearly, you will not carry any burden. The more mindful you are of God’s will, the greater the burden He will entrust to you. The selfish are unwilling to suffer such things; they are unwilling to pay the price, and, as a result, they will miss opportunities to be perfected by God. Are they not doing themselves harm? If you are someone who is mindful of God’s will, then you will develop a true burden for the church. In fact, instead of calling this a burden you bear for the church, it would be better to call it a burden you bear for your own life’s sake, because the purpose of this burden you develop for the church is to have you use such experiences to be perfected by God. Therefore, whoever carries the greatest burden for the church, whoever carries a burden for entering into life—they will be the ones who are perfected by God. Have you seen this clearly? If the church you are with is scattered like sand, but you are neither worried nor anxious, and you even turn a blind eye when your brothers and sisters are not normally eating and drinking of God’s words, then you are not carrying any burdens. Such people are not the kind in whom God delights. The kind of people in whom God delights hunger and thirst for righteousness and are mindful of God’s will. Thus, you should become mindful of God’s burden, here and now; you should not wait for God to reveal His righteous disposition to all humanity before growing mindful of God’s burden. Would it not be too late by then? Now is a good opportunity to be perfected by God. If you allow this chance to slip through your fingers, you will regret it for the rest of your life, just as Moses was unable to enter the good land of Canaan and regretted it for the rest of his life, dying with remorse. Once God has revealed His righteous disposition to all peoples, you will be filled with regret. Even if God does not chastise you, you will chastise yourself out of your own remorse” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Be Mindful of God’s Will in Order to Attain Perfection). Having read God’s words, I saw that the more mindful someone is of God’s burden, the more able they are to receive God’s blessings. However, those totally lacking any sense of responsibility toward the church work and their duty, and those who just protect themselves in their duties and do not protect the interests of the church whatsoever are all selfish and despicable people who can’t be perfected by God. I reflected on how utterly selfish I had been, unwilling to take on a real burden or be considerate of God’s will, only thinking of my own future and destination. When there were more newcomers not gathering regularly, I wasn’t urgently seeking a solution to the problem or offering them support as quickly as I could, but rather, I was worried about being exposed and cast out quicker if I stayed in the duty. I thought that if the newcomers left the faith, then I would be responsible. So, to protect myself, I wanted to resign from that duty. I wasn’t devoted to God at all. I was only thinking of my own interests in my duty. When I saw that I couldn’t benefit from something, and that I also had to suffer and take on responsibility, I wanted to run away, and to always leave myself a way out. I was perfectly happy to do the work when things were going well, but when problems cropped up and things weren’t going well, and my own future was threatened, I wanted to give up. I wasn’t genuine toward God and moreover didn’t have an honest heart. I was a slippery, treacherous, self-seeking, vile person who couldn’t be relied upon. God wouldn’t perfect someone as selfish and treacherous as me. The more I thought about it, the more I hated myself for lacking humanity and conscience. I wasn’t worthy of living before God. I was filled with guilt and regret.
Later on, I kept on thinking: Why was I always considering my own personal interests and future in my duty? Why was I so treacherous and selfish? When I later read God’s words dissecting antichrists in my devotionals, I was able to see this a little more clearly. Almighty God says, “When adjustments are made to their duties, at the very least, people should submit, benefit from reflecting on themselves, as well as gain an accurate assessment of whether their performance of their duties is qualified. But this is not so for antichrists. They are different from normal people, no matter what happens to them. Where does this difference lie? They do not obey, they do not proactively cooperate, nor do they search for truth in the slightest. Instead, they feel revulsion toward it, and they resist it, analyze it, contemplate it, and rack their brains in speculation: ‘Why am I not allowed to do this duty? Why am I transferred to an unimportant duty? Is this a means to reveal me and cast me out?’ They keep turning over what has happened in their minds, endlessly analyzing it and ruminating over it. … When a simple adjustment is made to their duty, people should answer with an attitude of obedience, do as God’s house tells them to, and do what they are able, and, no matter what they do, do it as well as is within their power, with all their heart and all their strength. What God has done is not in error. Such a simple truth can be practiced by people with a little conscience and rationality, but this is beyond the abilities of antichrists. When it comes to the adjustment of duties, antichrists will immediately offer reasoning, sophistry, and resistance, and deep down they refuse to accept it. Just what is in their heart? Suspicion and doubt, they then probe others using all kinds of methods. They test the waters with their words and their actions, and even coerce and entice people to tell the truth and speak honestly through unscrupulous means. They try to work it out: Just why were they transferred? Why were they not allowed to perform their duty? Who, exactly, was pulling the strings? Who was trying to mess things up for them? In their hearts, they keep asking why, they keep trying to work out what’s really going on, so they can find who to argue or settle scores with. They do not know to come before God to reflect on themselves, to look at what the problem is within them, they do not look for a reason in themselves…. Why would they make a simple thing so complicated? There is only one reason: Antichrists never obey the arrangements of God’s house, and they always closely link their duty, fame, and status with their hope of blessings and their future destination, as if once their reputation and status are lost, they have no hope of obtaining blessings and rewards, and this feels like losing their lives to them. Therefore, they guard themselves against the leaders and workers of God’s house to keep their dream of blessings from being spoiled. They cling to their reputation and status, because they think this is their only hope of gaining blessings. An antichrist sees being blessed as greater than the heavens themselves, greater than life, more important than pursuing the truth, dispositional change, or personal salvation, and more important than doing their duty well, and being a created being that is up to standard. They think that being a created being that is up to standard, doing their duty well and being saved are all paltry things that are hardly worth mentioning, while gaining blessings is the only thing in their entire life that can never be forgotten. In whatever they encounter, no matter how great or small, they relate it to being blessed by God, and are incredibly cautious and attentive, and they always leave a way out for themselves” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Twelve). When I thought over these words of God, I saw that protecting myself in my duty and thinking of my own interests was me displaying the same disposition of antichrists that God reveals, that I had only thought about obtaining blessings and personal gain, and that my motive in having faith was to be blessed by God. Whenever something happened, I first thought of my own outcome and destination, valuing blessings as much as life. In my duties I always considered all angles, always kept on my guard against God, leaving myself an escape route, afraid of being exposed and cast out if I wasn’t careful. I didn’t have any genuine faith in God. Since taking charge of church work, the moment I saw so many difficulties, I wanted to go back to sharing the gospel. I felt like I did well in preaching the gospel and could achieve things, so I’d receive God’s promise and have a beautiful destination. Seeing all those difficulties in the churches’ work, I was afraid the newcomers would drop out if the watering wasn’t done well, and that I’d be held responsible and cast out. As soon as I saw that my status and future would be impacted and that I wouldn’t be blessed, I wanted to turn tail and run and didn’t want to do that duty at all. I was only doing my duty to gain blessings, trying to make deals with God. It wasn’t to submit to God and do a created being’s duty. I thought of Paul going all over Europe to spread the gospel, suffering much and setting up many churches, but all that hard work was just to be blessed. He wanted to use his work as a bargaining chip with God. That is the reason why he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: From now on there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:7–8). I saw that I had acted just like Paul, without any sincerity in my duty. I wanted compensation and blessings from God for my superficial efforts, living completely by the poison of “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” In what way was this doing duty? I was just an opportunist who’d snuck into the church. I saw that I was a real lowlife. There were so many practical problems that needed addressing in the churches and I wasn’t focused on them. I was only ever thinking about my outcome and destination, and whether or not I’d obtain blessings. I was devoid of humanity! Thinking on this made me feel so guilty, so I said a prayer to God. I didn’t want to consider my outcome anymore, but instead to settle my heart and do my duty well.
Later, I read another passage of God’s words that was really enlightening. The word of God says: “Man’s performance of his duty is, in actuality, the accomplishment of all that is inherent within man, which is to say, that which is possible for man. It is then that his duty is fulfilled. The defects of man during his service are gradually reduced through progressive experience and the process of his undergoing judgment; they do not hinder or affect man’s duty. Those who cease to serve or yield and fall back for fear that there may be drawbacks to their service are the most cowardly of all. If people cannot express what they ought to express during service or achieve what is inherently possible for them, and instead fool about and go through the motions, they have lost the function that a created being should have. Such people are what are known as ‘mediocrities’; they are useless refuse. How can such people properly be called created beings? Are they not corrupt beings that shine on the outside but are rotten within? … There is no correlation between the duty of man and whether he is blessed or cursed. Duty is what man ought to fulfill; it is his heaven-sent vocation, and should not depend on recompense, conditions, or reasons. Only then is he doing his duty. To be blessed is when someone is made perfect and enjoys God’s blessings after experiencing judgment. To be cursed is when someone’s disposition does not change after they have experienced chastisement and judgment, it is when they do not experience being made perfect but are punished. But regardless of whether they are blessed or cursed, created beings should fulfill their duty, doing what they ought to do, and doing what they are able to do; this is the least that a person, a person who pursues God, should do. You should not do your duty only to be blessed, and you should not refuse to act for fear of being cursed. Let Me tell you this one thing: Man’s performance of his duty is what he ought to do, and if he is incapable of performing his duty, then this is his rebelliousness. It is through the process of doing his duty that man is gradually changed, and it is through this process that he demonstrates his loyalty. As such, the more you are able to do your duty, the more truth you shall receive, and the more real your expression shall become” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man). In reading the word of God, I understood that a duty has nothing to do with being blessed or cursed. As a created being, it is my obligation to perform a duty without linking it to blessings. Regardless of how many difficulties I might have in a duty, I should give it my whole heart and take on the responsibility. Even if I am eventually transferred or dismissed for not doing well, I’ll still have something to learn and reflect on. I shouldn’t give up on it for fear of being exposed and cast out. God’s house has principles for dismissing and casting out people and it’s not simply because of a particular duty they did or because they just made a mistake in their duty. For those who have been dismissed and cast out, it has always been because in their many years of believing in God, they were not pursuing the truth, they were not on the right path, and because when problems emerged they did not reflect on themselves, and they consistently refused to repent. For the brothers and sisters who pursue the truth, the church will still give them a chance even after they make transgressions, and will help them by fellowshiping and dealing with them. If someone learns about themselves, can repent and change, they can stay on in the church. I also learned that when God considers if someone is doing their duty adequately, it’s not about how much they appear to be expending themselves or how many achievements they have, but it’s about whether they’re focused on seeking the truth and following the principles in their work, and whether they’re putting their whole heart and all their effort into their duty. No matter how many difficulties someone encounters, as long as they consider God’s will and pursue the truth, God will enlighten them, and then any difficulty can be resolved. If someone doesn’t pursue the truth, but only thinks of their own gains and losses, muddling through their duty and never repenting, they’re bound to be exposed and cast out sooner or later. Once I understood God’s will, I said another prayer, wanting to stop thinking of my own gains and losses, but only to give my all in my duty.
After that, I really threw myself into my duty and carefully combed through the details of the work in the churches, listing out all the real problems and difficulties that existed. I consulted with my leader for the ones I couldn’t resolve, and sought fellowship and discussion with other churches’ leaders and co-workers. As I gradually came to understand the relevant principles and paths of practice, I could handle many problems and difficulties. I turned my attitude around and stopped thinking of my own future and destination, but just thought of how to work alongside brothers and sisters with united hearts and minds to resolve newcomers’ problems and difficulties. After some time, church life gradually got on the right track. The newcomers who had not been coming to gatherings also gradually regained their church life and could eat and drink of God’s words normally. Also, quite a few newcomers started spreading the gospel and performing their duties. I saw God’s guidance, and had some true experience with God’s statement “Seeking to actively perform one’s duty as a creature of God is the path to success” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks).
Thinking back on it all, from when those churches had lots of problems to when they later gradually got on the right track and new believers were living normal church lives, I realize that it was all the fruit of God’s work. I see that God’s work really is being done by God Himself, and that humans are just cooperating. Whatever duty or difficulties, we have to submit and not give thought to our gains or losses. We need to seek the truth, consider God’s will, and put our all into doing our duties. Only then will we see God’s blessings.