28. I’m No Longer Afraid of Responsibility
By Cheng Nuo, China
One day in November 2020, a leader attended our team gathering and then after it wrapped up, mentioned that he wanted to have us elect a team leader who would take charge of our editing work. To my surprise, I got the most votes. I was utterly shocked: I was chosen as team leader? I had hardly any life entry and I lacked the reality of the truth. Could I really take on the duty of leading the team? If problems come up in our work, wouldn’t it be natural to look for the team leader to accept responsibility? What if I couldn’t fix them and our work suffered as a result? I thought about a previous experience I had acting as a team leader. I’d just covered my own back without putting the truth into practice. When I saw people disrupting and hindering the work of the church, I didn’t put an immediate stop to it out of fear of offending them. As a result, the church’s work was compromised and I was dismissed. I felt that if I didn’t do my duty well this time, but instead held up the work of God’s house and brothers’ and sisters’ life entry, that would be tantamount to doing evil. Being dismissed wouldn’t be my only concern—there could even be a possibility of me being eliminated. I was unwilling to see that happen and felt I couldn’t take it on. And so, I told the leader that I didn’t have enough life entry and I was incapable of resolving others’ problems, so I wasn’t a good fit for the position. I came up with a whole host of excuses. He told me that I should accept that duty and submit to it, but I simply couldn’t find peace with it. My mind was churning. Just then, I suddenly thought of this passage of God’s words: “You should submit and actively cooperate. This is your duty and your responsibility. No matter the road ahead, you should have a heart of obedience. Timidity, fear, worry, suspicion—none of these should be the attitude with which you approach your duty” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. What Is the Adequate Performance of Duty?). As I pondered this, I started to feel a sense of calm, and I realized that this duty being put in front of me came from God’s rule and arrangements. Even though I didn’t understand God’s will at the time, I saw that I had to allow myself to be led by God and submit.
After that, I found myself facing all sorts of problems and difficulties in my duty, and I particularly saw no progress in our team’s work. My worries cropped up again, that if our performance didn’t improve, I just wouldn’t be able to shirk my responsibility as team leader. Thinking about this threw me into a state of absolute turmoil. One evening when I was having a chat with the sister who worked most closely with me about our states, I started feeling really uneasy as she talked about the previous team leader who had been dismissed because she didn’t pursue the truth or strive to do better. She wasn’t making any improvement in her professional skills and couldn’t do any practical work. I knew that I was serving as team leader for a team facing a number of difficulties and problems, so if I couldn’t get a handle on those and do some practical work, would I face dismissal too? I wanted to go back to being a regular team member without so much responsibility. I was thinking that I would do this duty for the time being since I had just been elected, then if I turned out to be inadequate, I should gracefully step down as soon as possible so I wouldn’t do evil that could disrupt and harm the church’s work, and then be dismissed. If that happened, it could even mean losing out on my final destination. I found myself stuck in that state, terrified of not doing my duty well, of having to take responsibility for any problems. When I encountered a difficulty in my work, I found myself particularly afraid I wouldn’t be able to manage it—I was perennially held back, in a world of pain and suffering.
Then this passage of God’s words that I read one day revealing the essence of an antichrist’s disposition gave me some insight into my own state: “When a simple adjustment is made to your duty, do as you are told, and do what you are able, and, no matter what you do, do it as well as is within your power, with all your heart and all your strength. What God has done is not in error. Even so simple a truth as this is not in the hearts of the antichrists. What do they have in their hearts? Suspicion, doubt, defiance, temptation…. Such a simple matter—yet an antichrist makes a great fuss about it, and mulls it over and over, such that they do not sleep a wink. Why is this the way they think? Why do they think in so complicated a way about a simple thing? The reason is simple, and there is only one: In each affair or arrangement of God’s house that concerns them, they will tie a tight hitch connecting that thing to their destination and their wish to gain blessings. This is why they think, ‘I have to be careful; one wrong step will lead to every step’s being wrong, and I can say goodbye to my wish to gain blessings—and that’ll be the end of me. I can’t be careless! The house of God, the brothers and sisters, upper leadership, even God—they’re all unreliable. I don’t put my trust in any of them. The person who’s most reliable and most trustworthy is oneself; if you don’t make plans for yourself, who else is going to look out for you? Who else is going to consider your prospects and whether you’ll gain blessings? So, I have to work extremely hard to make plans for myself, and make meticulous preparations and calculations; I can’t slip, and I can’t be the least bit sloppy—otherwise, it’ll be easy for people to confuse me and take advantage of me’” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (29)). Only after reading these words from God did I understand that it’s entirely normal to experience changes in our duties, and that I should approach it with the proper attitude. I should do my utmost to improve in my work and to fulfill my responsibilities, and if I still couldn’t make the grade even with my best effort, I would have to happily accept being dismissed. Duties are shifted according to the needs of God’s house as well as people’s personal ability to take on a given duty. It has nothing to do with people’s outcomes and destinations. But I was lacking true faith for God, and I hadn’t been able to properly understand perfectly appropriate changes in people’s duties within God’s house. I had had a twisted perspective, thinking that my duty was inextricably linked with my destination and outcome, whether I’d end up being blessed. I was second-guessing everything, on my guard against God, afraid that I’d be exposed and eliminated if I couldn’t perform my duty well, and then I’d be left without any kind of status or future. I was really overthinking it and so caught up in evil! I was trying to be crafty and play games with God in order to protect my own self-interest, making plans to throw in the towel if I couldn’t do a good job in my duty. I wasn’t sparing a single thought for how to actually perform my duty well, but instead I was fixated on my own future prospects. God elevating me to act as a team leader was giving me a chance to train myself so that I could make some progress in my work and my life entry. That was God’s love for me. But I had twisted my idea of God’s love, thinking that was actually me about to be exposed and eliminated. Wasn’t that blasphemy against God? Wasn’t I revealing precisely the evil disposition of an antichrist?
I thought back on what I’d revealed over that period of time: I hadn’t remotely understood God, but I was just overcome with speculations and guardedness. I was incredibly upset, and I couldn’t stop wondering why I was in that kind of state, where the root of the problem really was. I later read another passage of God’s words exposing the disposition of antichrists that really resonated with me: “The antichrists do not believe that there is truth in the words of God, and they do not believe in His disposition, identity, or essence. They regard all this with human thoughts and human perspectives, to analyze and examine all that happens around them, and it is also with human perspectives, human thoughts, and human guile that they regard the way God treats people, the various work that God does in people. More than that, they use human thought and human methods, employing the logic and thinking of Satan to regard God’s disposition, identity, and essence. Obviously, the antichrists do not merely neither accept nor acknowledge God’s disposition, identity, and essence, but are full of notions and of vague, hollow ideas about God’s disposition, identity, and essence. All they are filled with is human understanding; they have not the least shred of real knowledge. This being so, how, in the end, does an antichrist define God’s disposition, identity, and essence? Can they establish that God is righteous and that to man, He is love? They most certainly cannot. The antichrists’ definition of God’s righteousness and love is a question mark—dubiousness. God’s disposition determines His identity, and they snort derisively at His disposition, and are full of skepticism and full of denial and denigration for it, so what, then, of His identity? God’s disposition represents His identity; with such a regard of it as theirs, their regard of God’s identity is self-evident—direct denial. This is the essence of the antichrists” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. For Leaders and Workers, Choosing a Path Is of Utmost Importance (26)). God’s words show that antichrists don’t believe that God’s words are the truth, much less acknowledge God’s righteous disposition. They never base their opinions of things on God’s words, but instead approach everything based on human understanding and Satan’s logic. I saw that I was also harboring that kind of antichrist disposition, that I had no understanding of God’s righteous disposition as it relates to the church adjusting positions, or dismissing or eliminating people. Instead, I’d been viewing these issues through the lens of satanic logic like “The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” “The nail that sticks up the most gets hammered down,” and “It’s lonely at the top.” I thought that having more status and responsibility would just expose me that much faster and then lead to my elimination. That’s why, even though I accepted my position as team leader on the outside, I kept my guard up against God, afraid of being exposed and eliminated if I tripped up, then ultimately losing out on my final destination. I was a believer who read God’s words, but my perspective on things didn’t shift at all, and I never sought the truth in the face of issues or looked at things in light of God’s words, but instead assessed God’s work based on satanic notions, imagining God to be some sort of dictator who would expose and eliminate me at the slightest fumble, wasn’t that me denying God’s righteous disposition? Wasn’t that me blaspheming God? The truth is that whenever someone is dismissed or eliminated by the church, it’s based on principle. It’s based on an overall consideration of a person’s caliber, whether they are of good or evil humanity, whether they pursue the truth, and what kind of path they’re on. They are not defined as a person, dismissed and eliminated based on their occasional transgression or momentary expression, or whether they have high status. God’s house will give extra chances to leaders who truly expend themselves for God and pursue the truth, in spite of any transgressions. They will be pruned and dealt with, reminded and warned, and anyone who is capable of knowing themselves, anyone who repents and transforms, will continue to be made use of and cultivated. There are some false leaders who don’t do practical work, who are greedy for comfort, are derelict in their duties, and who hold the position of a leader without assuming the obligations a leader should. That sort of person, without fail, will be dismissed from their position, but as long as they are not a wicked person who does every manner of evil, they will not just be lightly eliminated, kicked out of the church. God’s house will arrange another suitable duty for them, giving them a chance for repentance and self-reflection. There are those antichrists who refuse to accept any truths, who only work for the sake of their own status and power, who just want to seize power to gain control over the church—only they are thoroughly exposed and eliminated, permanently expelled from the church. I saw that God’s house treats people in a way that is entirely fair and just, that the truth holds sway in the house of God. No good person would ever be wrongly accused, and no evil person would be easily let off. Whether or not someone is exposed and eliminated has nothing to do with their position. What really matters is whether they can accept and pursue the truth. For those who pursue the truth, when they take on an important duty, when they shoulder more responsibility, they gain more opportunities to develop themselves and are more able to be perfected by God. But those who don’t pursue the truth, who don’t seek the principles in their duty and refuse to accept being judged, chastised, pruned, and dealt with, whose corrupt dispositions don’t remotely change, no matter what their status may be, they will ultimately be eliminated. Giving it more thought, I realized that when I had been dismissed from my position as team leader before, it was because I was selfish and despicable by nature and didn’t put the truth into practice at all. I was standing in the way of the church’s work. That was God’s righteous disposition coming upon me, and it was God giving me a chance to repent and transform. But instead I acted just like a nonbeliever, having no faith in God’s salvation and misunderstanding Him. It was then that I finally realized how terribly the satanic philosophy of “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” had harmed me. I not only became consumed with misunderstandings and guardedness against God, but I’d become more and more crafty and evil. I knew I couldn’t continue to live by satanic logic and laws like that, but I had to look at and approach things based on God’s words. Receiving this duty of being team leader was being elevated by God, and it was God giving me a chance at learning. I needed to treasure this opportunity. I had been a roadblock in my duty in the past, but this time, I knew I had to pay a price in my duty, to make up for my past failures, seek the principles of the truth more, and put my all into it to do my duty well.
Understanding these things has truly been freeing for me, too. When I think back now on how I misunderstood and was guarded against God, I’ve felt how unreasonable I was, how foolish and blind I was, without any understanding of God whatsoever. I’ve silently prayed to God within my heart, “Oh God, thank You for Your guidance, for allowing me to see my own ugliness, and for showing me what a great barrier these satanic notions had created between You and me. I’ve been unfeeling and unaware, misunderstanding things and being on my guard, and I was totally oblivious to how You felt. I’ve been so rebellious, and I fully repent to You.”
One day I read an article in which the writer perfectly expressed my own personal state, and quoted some of God’s words that provided me with a path of practice: “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. … 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 very 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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man). As I considered this, I came to understand God’s will. God doesn’t expect all that much of mankind. He just wants us to pursue the truth, to do all we can to put whatever we can grasp, whatever we can accomplish into play, not muddling through, not being slippery and deceptive, but throwing our all into it and doing what God asks of us. Even if we experience some failures and missteps in the process, as long as we can accept the truth, and accept being pruned and dealt with, these problems can be resolved. We can see progress and change. Since receiving that commission, I’d been entirely lacking an attitude of acceptance and submission. I was afraid that with the slightest misstep, with any transgression, I’d be eliminated, that I would lose my outcome and final destination. I saw I really didn’t have any understanding of the truth whatsoever, and that I didn’t really understand God’s work. I particularly saw that over all those years of believing in God and doing my duty, it wasn’t to satisfy God, but it was just striving for the sake of my own future and destination. I was so selfish and crafty! A duty is a commission from God, and it’s a responsibility that every created being has to fulfill. It doesn’t matter whether we’re blessed or cursed in the end—we all have to do our own duty. I can’t refuse to do my duty just because I’m afraid of committing evil. In spite of my paltry entry into life and lacking the reality of the truth, God has elevated me to serve as team leader. It’s not because I’m worthy of the position now, but it’s in the hope that through the course of me doing this duty I’ll be able to pursue the truth, accept being judged, chastised, pruned, and dealt with, and continue to improve upon my personal shortcomings. Then hopefully, in the end I can manage to do this duty adequately. Once I understood God’s will, I gained more confidence in facing the issues and difficulties that cropped up in my duty, and I gained the resolve to satisfy God through doing that duty.
I read this in God’s words after that: “What are the expressions of an honest person? The crux of the matter is to practice the truth in all things. If you say you are honest, but you always put God’s words to the back of your mind and do whatever you want, then is this an expression of an honest person? You say, ‘My caliber is low, but I am honest at heart.’ When a duty falls to you, however, you are afraid of suffering or that if you do not fulfill it well, you will have to bear the responsibility, so you make excuses to shirk it and recommend others to do it. Is this an expression of an honest person? It clearly is not. How, then, should an honest person behave? They should accept and obey, and then be utterly devoted in doing their duties to the best of their ability, striving to meet God’s will. This is expressed in several ways. One way is that you should accept your duty with honesty, not think about anything else, and not be half-hearted about it. Do not plot for your own benefit. This is an expression of honesty. Another way is putting all your strength and heart into it. You say, ‘This is everything I can do; I will put it all into play, and dedicate it completely to God.’ Is this not an expression of honesty? You dedicate all you have and all you can do—this is an expression of honesty. If you are unwilling to dedicate all you have, if you keep it hidden and tucked away, are slippery in your actions, evade your duty and get someone else to do it because you are afraid of having to bear the consequences for not doing a good job, then is this being honest? No, it is not. Being an honest person, therefore, is not merely a matter of having a desire. If you do not put it into practice when things befall you, then you are not an honest person. When you encounter issues, you must practice the truth and have practical expressions. This is the only way to be an honest person, and only these are the expressions of an honest heart” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. People Can Only Truly Be Happy by Being Honest). God likes those who are honest, and those who are honest are not preoccupied with blessings. They are not afraid of taking on responsibility, but wholeheartedly try to do their duty well to satisfy God. They put their all into doing whatever they possibly can. Thinking about this really put me to shame. I was always talking about how I wanted to satisfy God, but when it really came time for me to accept a commission, to genuinely put my heart into something, I became disingenuous and wanted to get out of it. Then I realized I was just saying some nice-sounding things, but in fact, I was trying to fool God, and at heart I was being totally dishonest. When I realized this, I knew that I couldn’t continue on that way. Even though I had plenty of problems and shortcomings, I had to practice being an honest person in accordance with God’s requirements. I had to give my heart to God and do my duty to the best of my ability with my feet firmly planted on the ground. And no matter how things turned out, I was willing to obey God’s orchestrations and arrangements. After that I relaxed to such an incredible degree. When I encountered difficulties in my duty, I prayed to God to seek and resolve them, and when I was confused I explored things along with brothers and sisters, seeking the principles of the truth. I found I was, over time, able to resolve many problems and difficulties.
This experience has shown me how God’s judgment and chastisement really are His love and salvation for mankind. I’ve lost my fear of taking on responsibility and I’m no longer so defensive or prone to misunderstanding. Even though I still have plenty of corrupt dispositions, I’m willing to accept being judged, chastised, pruned, and dealt with by God, and to pursue being cleansed and transformed. I give thanks to God!