74. Being Called Out Unmasked Me
By Sharon, Spain
One day in December 2021, another sister told me Sister Arianna, who had been transferred to another church from ours, said that I was careless in my duty, and I didn’t deal with problems that came up quickly enough in my gospel work, which lowered the team’s efficiency and effectiveness. She said I had false leader behaviors. That sister reminded me to reflect on myself. I felt angry, thinking, “Lately I haven’t been doing detailed follow-up, but there’s a good reason. If you have something to say, say it to my face. By saying it behind my back, aren’t you trying to cause trouble? What will the brothers and sisters think of me? Since you talked about me like that, I won’t let you off easily. I’ll expose your faults, too, so that the others know it’s not my problem, but it’s all on you.” So I said to that sister, “Arianna has always looked down on me and found fault with me. Everyone knows that she’s not a great person. She never worked well with others, but was really nitpicky. Now she’s targeting me, but I never did anything to her. It might be because I transferred her to another church, so she lost her title as team leader and she wants to take revenge on me for that.” Even after saying that, I still felt like what Arianna had done was incredibly embarrassing for me. She exposed me in front of all those people. If everyone believed her, how would they see me? Would they think I was a false leader? And if it was reported to upper leadership, I might even lose my position. I was more and more preoccupied with it and started to hate Arianna. Wasn’t she clearly singling me out? I figured if she was unkind, she couldn’t blame me for being unfair; so as long as I was leader, she wouldn’t see another promotion. I would bring all her behavior to light, make sure everyone gained discernment, and get her out of the church if I found out she was judging people behind their backs. I wasn’t comfortable with this kind of thinking and wondered if treating her that way was in line with God’s will. God had allowed this to happen, and I wasn’t seeking the truth or self-reflecting, but had my gaze fixed squarely on her, and I wanted to pounce on her faults to counter her, to expose her and even take revenge. I knew that wasn’t accepting the truth.
I gave this some thought that night. In my heart, I still couldn’t accept what Arianna said about me, but really thinking about it, was I a good, competent leader? A leader should have a grasp on every facet of the work and resolve problems as soon as they’re found. I was in charge of gospel work, so when that team ran into problems, I should offer practical help and guidance right away. But I hadn’t been doing much of that. Isn’t a false leader someone who doesn’t do practical work? Arianna wasn’t wrong. She wasn’t an evil person. She had some gifts and strengths and she got results in her duty. If I didn’t let her do a duty or even kicked her out because of a personal grudge, not only would it hurt Arianna, but it would disrupt the work of the church. I couldn’t do something to disgust God. At that thought I was able to let go of my bias toward her a bit. I also reflected on what kind of practical work I wasn’t doing. I knew I had to start making changes in the areas she had mentioned and communicating with the brothers and sisters about their difficulties. I felt better after doing that.
At the time I thought it had all passed, but a couple days later I learned that Arianna talked about signs of my being a false leader in a gathering with more than 40 people. All my anger boiled up to the surface when I heard this, and I thought Arianna exposing me in front of so many people really dragged my name through the mud. How could I hold my head up if she kept doing that? I could even be dismissed for being a false leader. I wanted to show her what’s what, so she didn’t think I was a docile little lamb! If she wanted to expose me in front of everyone and damage my reputation, I could find out what she did wrong and collect evidence, then find a chance to clear her out. I was constantly on edge over the next few days, thinking about how to salvage my pride and dignity, how to get back at her. I told the leader at her new church that she didn’t have good humanity and had always been judgmental toward leaders and workers, so she should keep an eye on her and waste no time dismissing her if she sees her acting up. After I said all of that I did feel kind of guilty and uneasy. I thought, “What am I doing? Isn’t this an eye for an eye, isn’t it lashing out and excluding others? What lesson does God want me to learn from this?” Then I finally came before God to pray and seek.
In my seeking, I thought of God’s words exposing antichrists who exclude anyone they disagree with. Almighty God says, “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 antichrists’ modus operandi is wholly in order to protect their power and status, it is entirely the result of their desire to hold on to power. … This is especially true when a dissenter is present, and the antichrist hears that the dissenter has said something about them, or criticized them behind their back. In this case, they will resolve the matter in short order, even if it means missing a night’s sleep and a day’s food. How is it that they can exert such effort? It is because they feel that their status is in peril, that it has been challenged. They feel that if they do not take such action, their power and status will be in danger—that once their evil deeds and scandalous conduct are exposed, they will not only be unable to hold onto their status and power, but will also be cleared out or expelled from the church. That is why they are desperately impatient in thinking of ways to suppress the matter and dispel all hidden perils to them. This is the only way they can hold on to their status. Status is the breath of life, as far as antichrists are concerned. As soon as they hear that someone is going to expose or report them, they are terrified to distraction, fearful that come tomorrow, they will lose their status and never again enjoy the feeling of privilege that status has brought them, nor the trappings of status. They fear that no one will defer to them or follow them anymore, that no one will curry their favor or do their bidding anymore. But what is most intolerable to them is not just that they will lose their status and power, but that they may even be cleared out or expelled. If that were to happen, all the advantages and feelings of privilege that status and power have given them would be lost in an instant. This prospect is what is hardest for them to bear” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Two). “For an antichrist, the dissenter is a threat to their status and power. Whoever threatens their status and power, no matter who it may be, antichrists will go to any lengths to ‘take care’ of them. If these people truly cannot be brought to heel or incorporated into their own forces, then the antichrists will bring them down or purge them. In the end, the antichrists will achieve their goal of having absolute power, and being a law unto themselves. This is one of the techniques that antichrists habitually use to maintain their status and power—they attack and exclude dissenters” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Two). God’s words were really poignant and left me afraid. I hadn’t realized that I was able to lash out and exclude someone for my name and status and I was doing an antichrist’s evil. When I heard that Arianna had told others I didn’t do practical work, I didn’t think about whether it was true, but just thought she was targeting me and judging me behind my back. It wounded my pride so I started to dislike her and bear a grudge, even wanting to lash out at her. Then when I found out about her exposing me at that larger gathering, I hated her even more. I wanted to salvage my pride and position, so I made a big deal over her past transgressions, and others would think she didn’t have good humanity, and would reject her. I even encouraged her current leader to keep an eye on her behavior, hoping to find a chance to get her kicked out. I was well aware that she had gifts and strengths, and did okay in her duty, that she should keep doing a duty in the church. I also knew that Arianna was revealing real problems of mine, but it touched upon my face and status, so I started to see her as a dissenter, an enemy, and a threat to my power and position. I wanted to get lash out at her, to revenge. I really did have a vicious nature! Then I thought about the antichrists that have been expelled from the church. The moment someone threatened their status, they’d lash out, wanting to turn the church into their kingdom, to rule everything. They ended up kicked out for doing too much evil. My behavior was no different from those antichrists’ behavior.
I continued to reflect on myself, on why I’d been a believer for so many years, but couldn’t stop myself from taking an antichrist’s path and doing such evil things. Then in a gathering we read “Those Who Obey God With a True Heart Shall Surely Be Gained by God.” There was one passage that went straight to the core for me. Almighty God says, “Since you believe in God, you must put faith in all of the words of God and in all of His work. Which is to say, since you believe in God, you must obey Him. If you are unable to do this, then it does not matter whether you believe in God or not. If you have believed in God for many years, and yet have never obeyed Him, and do not accept the entirety of His words, and instead ask that God submit to you and act according to your notions, then you are the most rebellious of all, you are a nonbeliever. How could such people be able to obey the work and words of God that do not conform to the notions of man? Most rebellious of all are those who intentionally defy and resist God. They are the enemies of God, the antichrists. Theirs is always an attitude of hostility toward the new work of God; they never have the slightest inclination to submit, nor have they ever gladly submitted or humbled themselves. They exalt themselves before others and never submit to anyone. Before God, they consider themselves the best at preaching the word, and the most skillful in working on others. Never do they discard the ‘treasures’ in their possession, but treat them as family heirlooms for worship, for preaching about to others, and they use them to lecture those fools who idolize them. There are indeed a certain number of people like this in the church. It can be said that they are ‘indomitable heroes,’ generation after generation sojourning in the house of God. They take preaching the word (doctrine) to be their highest duty. Year after year, generation after generation, they go about vigorously enforcing their ‘sacred and inviolable’ duty. None dare touch them; not a single person dares openly reproach them. They become ‘kings’ in the house of God, running rampant as they tyrannize others from age to age. This pack of demons seeks to join hands and demolish My work; how can I allow these living devils to exist before My eyes? Even those who are only half obedient cannot carry on until the end, much less these tyrants without the slightest obedience in their hearts! The work of God is not easily gained by man. Even using all the strength they have, people can only gain a mere portion of it, ultimately allowing them to be made perfect. What, then, of the children of the archangel, who seek to destroy the work of God? Do they not have even less hope of being gained by God?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God). God’s words pierced my heart and I saw His righteous, majestic disposition. What scared me even more were these words: “never submit to anyone,” “None dare touch them,” and “They become ‘kings’ in the house of God, running rampant as they tyrannize others from age to age. This pack of demons seeks to join hands and demolish My work; how can I allow these living devils to exist before My eyes?” When I found out Arianna had exposed me as a false leader, I responded with enmity, discontent, resentment, and resistance. I lashed out viciously out of anger. Even as a church leader, I wouldn’t accept the truth and totally lacked submission. When someone revealed my problems, when my pride was wounded and my position threatened, I wanted to use every means to hold them back and get back at them, even trying to take away their right to do a duty and run them out of the church. I had this malicious mentality, that I wouldn’t rest until I’d totally ruined them. I’d become a “king” in the church that no one dared touch. How’s that different from the CCP demons, those dictators? Their motto is “Let those who comply with me thrive and those who resist me perish.” To maintain its rule and consolidate its power, the CCP oppresses, uproots, and completely eradicates anyone who disagrees or dares to expose the evil it does. That’s what it did at the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, what it does to the ethnic minorities, and it’s even worse with believers: arresting, oppressing, persecuting us. So many innocent lives have been lost at their hands! I’d been educated and influenced by those communist demons since I was little. So many satanic poisons had become very deeply entrenched within me, like “Only I reign supreme,” “Let those who comply with me thrive and those who resist me perish,” “If you’re unkind, don’t blame me for being unfair,” and “Here’s a taste of your own medicine.” These satanic poisons had become my rules for survival, making me more arrogant and vicious. I was living by these things, so I was capable of doing evil, oppressing and hurting others. I also thought about how God has fellowshiped so many truths about discerning false leaders and antichrists. Now everyone’s learning the truth and waking up, so some people expose and report false leaders. This is practicing the truth and protecting the church’s work—it’s a positive thing. No matter what sort of person the one who exposes me is, whether they’re targeting me, if they say it to my face or not, as long as what they say is the truth, I should accept it from God, and properly accept it, submit, and learn a lesson. That’s accepting the truth and submitting to God. But as for me, not only did I refuse to submit, but I lashed out at the one who exposed me. That wasn’t a personal dispute, but I was rejecting the truth and resisting God. Realizing this, I hated myself and felt kind of afraid. I quickly came before God to pray: “God, I was wrong. When I was exposed by Arianna, I didn’t reflect on myself or learn a lesson, but I went after her. I can see I really have a vicious nature. God, I want to repent to You.”
I reflected on myself in light of what Arianna had said about my problems and started doing real follow-up on work details. I discovered there really were a lot of problems. Like some brothers and sisters who were new to the work of sharing the gospel weren’t familiar with truths of visions, so they weren’t able to resolve the notions and difficulties of the people they preached to. Some didn’t understand the principles of spreading the gospel, so unsuitable people were being converted. Some new believers didn’t remotely understand the truth even after a while of being watered, and some weren’t interested in the truth and dropped out. It was a waste of a lot of our resources. I brought up the problems I’d seen in a gathering and fellowshiped on the principles to set things right. The brothers and sisters started making plans to equip themselves with truths of visions, and when they didn’t understand or couldn’t clearly fellowship something, we’d have fellowship on it together. Before long, they had more clarity on truths of visions and the team was more successful. I realized God allowed Arianna to expose me as a false leader and point out I wasn’t doing practical work to get me to reflect on myself and do my work well. He was protecting me.
I thought of another passage of God’s words later on: “God works in every single person, and no matter what His method is, what kind of people, matters, and things He makes use of in His service, or what kind of tone His words have, He only has one end goal: saving you. And how does He save you? He changes you. So how could you not suffer a bit? You are going to have to suffer. This suffering can involve many things. First, when people accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, it can be painful to them. When God’s words are too severe and explicit and people misinterpret God—and even have notions—that can be painful, too. Sometimes God raises up an environment around people to expose their corruption, to make them reflect on and know themselves, and they will suffer a little then, too. Sometimes, when they are directly pruned, dealt with, and exposed, people must suffer; it is as if they have been put under the knife. If there is no suffering, there is no effect. If every time you are pruned and dealt with, and every time you are laid bare by an environment, it arouses your feelings and gives you a boost, then through this process you will enter the reality of the truth, and will have stature. … If God arranges certain environments, people, matters, and things for you, if He prunes and deals with you and if you learn lessons from this, if you have learned to come before God, learned to seek the truth, and, unknowingly, are enlightened and illuminated and attain the truth, if you have experienced a change in these environments, reaped rewards, and made progress, if you begin to have a little comprehension of God’s will and you cease to complain, then all of this will mean that you have stood firm in the midst of the trials of these environments, and have withstood the test. As such, you will have gotten through this ordeal. How will God regard those who withstand the test? God will say that they have a true heart, and that they can endure this kind of suffering because, deep down, they love the truth and want to gain the truth. If God has this kind of assessment of you, are you not then someone with stature? Do you not then have life? And how is this life attained? Is it bestowed by God? God supplies you in various ways and uses various people, things, and objects to train you. This is as if God is personally giving you food and drink, personally delivering various foodstuffs before you for you to eat your fill and enjoy; only then can you grow and stand strong. This is how you must experience and comprehend these things; this is how to submit to everything that comes from God” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. To Gain the Truth, One Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Nearby).
Through all of this I realized that God had allowed Arianna to expose problems in my duty. It wasn’t easy for me to accept, but it was so beneficial for my life entry. Being dealt with that way helped me see all sorts of characteristics of a false leader in me and motivated me to seek the truth and change. On top of that, I saw my arrogant, vicious nature, that I was able to oppress and exclude someone to protect my name and status. This really gave me a clear view of the truth of my corruption. I hated myself from my core and became able to pursue the truth and cast off corruption. This was God’s special grace, and His love and salvation for me. I’m so grateful to God!