On Harmonious Cooperation
How people do their duties in God’s house is completely different from how things are done among unbelievers. What is the difference? Brothers and sisters read God’s word together and are connected in spirit. They are able to live in harmony with one another and tell one another what is truly on their mind. They are able to simply and openly fellowship the truth with one another, enjoy God’s word, and help one another. Whoever has difficulties, they seek the truth together to resolve the matter, they can achieve unity in spirit, and they can submit before the truth and before God. Unbelievers are different. They all have their own secrets, they do not communicate openly, they are guarded against each other, and they even scheme and vie against one another. Ultimately, they part ways on bad terms and follow their own paths. The biggest difference between being in the church and being in the world of unbelievers is that those who sincerely believe in God can accept the truth. No matter who has problems or difficulties, everyone can fellowship openly and help one another, and if somebody reveals corruption, they can be critiqued, dealt with, and pruned, so that this person can repent. This is what it means to love one another. All people are in equal relation to each other, and the principles by which people get along are built on the foundation of God’s word. If someone exposes corruption, speaks incorrectly, or makes a mistake, they can fellowship openly. When everyone seeks the truth, helps one another, and attains understanding of the truth, complete liberation and freedom is gained. In this way, people no longer find themselves estranged from one another, vying with each other, or being guarded against one another. They are also able to encourage one another and love one another as one. These things are the effect of the word of God. Through church life, all those who genuinely believe in God come to understand the truth, cast off their corruption, cooperate in harmony with their brothers and sisters, perform their own duties well, live in harmony with one another, and live before God.
If you want to fulfill your duties well and satisfy God’s will, then you must learn to work in harmony with others first. When cooperating with your brothers and sisters, you should consider the following: “What is harmony? Is my speech in harmony with them? Are my thoughts in harmony with them? Is the way I do things in harmony with them?” Consider how to cooperate in harmony. At times, harmony means forbearance and tolerance, but it also means standing your ground and upholding principles. Harmony does not mean compromising on principles to smooth things over, or trying to be “the good guy,” or sticking to the path of moderation—and it certainly does not mean ingratiating yourself to someone. These are principles. Once you have grasped these principles, you will, without realizing it, speak and act in accordance with God’s will, and live out the reality of the truth, and in this way it is easy to achieve unity. In the house of God, if people live by their worldly philosophies, and if they rely on their own notions, inclinations, desires, selfish motives, their own gifts, and cleverness in getting along with one another, then this is no way to live before God, and they are incapable of achieving unity. Why is this? This is because when people live by a satanic disposition, they cannot achieve unity. What, then, is the ultimate consequence of this? God does not work on them. Without God’s work, if people rely on their own meager abilities and cleverness, on their bit of expertise, and on those bits of knowledge and skill they have gained, then they will have a very difficult time being put to use in God’s house and they will find it very hard to act in accordance with His will. Without God’s work, you can never grasp the will of God, the requirements of God, or the principles of practice. You will not know the path or the principles by which to perform your duties, and you will never know how to act in accordance with God’s will or what actions violate the truth principles and resist God. If none of these things are clear to you, you will merely be observing and following rules blindly. When you perform your duties in such confusion, you are certain to fail. You will never gain God’s approval, and you are certain to make God detest and reject you, and you will be cast out.
When two people collaborate to perform a duty, they sometimes will have a dispute over a matter of principle. They will have different viewpoints and they will come to different opinions. What can be done in that case? Is this an issue that comes up often? It is a normal phenomenon. Everyone’s minds, calibers, insights, ages, and experiences are different, and it is impossible for two people to have precisely the same thoughts and views, and therefore, that two people might come to differ in their opinions and views is a very common phenomenon. It could not be a more regular occurrence. It is nothing to make a fuss about. The critical question is how, when such an issue arises, to cooperate and seek unity before God and unanimity of views and opinions. What is the path to unification of views and opinions? It is to seek the relevant aspect of the truth principles, not to act according to your own or to someone else’s intentions, but to seek the intentions of God. This is the path to harmonious cooperation. Only when you seek God’s intentions and the principles He requires will you be able to achieve unity. Otherwise, if things went your way, the other person would be unsatisfied, and if things went their way, you would feel displeased and uncomfortable. You would be unable to see things clearly, unable to let things go, and you would always be thinking, “Is it the right way to do things?” You would be unable to see who really has the right way of thinking, but at the same time, you would be unwilling to give up on your own ideas. In such a situation, you should seek the truth, and you should seek what the principles are and what standards God requires. Once you have sought out the standards God requires, fellowship with that other person. If they then fellowship a bit on their views and knowledge, your heart will become clear and bright. You will think to yourself, “My way of thinking is a little skewed, a little shallow—their way of thinking is better, closer to the standards God requires, so I’ll put aside my way of thinking, accept theirs, and submit to it. Let’s do it their way.” And, having learned something from them, have you not been shown favor? They gave a bit, and you enjoyed something ready-made. That is called God’s grace, and you have been shown favor. Do you think it is really only when the Holy Spirit enlightens you that you are being shown favor? When someone has an opinion or some enlightenment and shares it with you in fellowship, or something is put into practice according to their principles, and you see the result is not bad, is that not gaining something? This is being shown favor. Cooperation among brothers and sisters is a process of offsetting one’s weaknesses with another’s strengths. You use your strengths to compensate for others’ shortcomings, and others use their strengths to make up for your insufficiencies. This is what it means to offset one’s weaknesses with others’ strengths and to cooperate harmoniously. Only when cooperating in harmony can people be blessed before God, and the more of this one experiences, the more reality they possess, their path grows brighter as they walk it, and they become ever more at ease. If you are not cooperating harmoniously; if you are always at loggerheads with others and never accept what others say, and they do not wish to listen to you; if you try to preserve the dignity of others, yet they do not do the same for you, and you find it uncomfortable; if you back them into a corner over something they have said, and they remember it, and, the next time an issue arises, they do the same to you—then what problem is this? Is this not living by your hot-headedness and vying with one another? Is this not living by a corrupt disposition? Performing your duties in this way will absolutely not gain God’s approval or blessings. It will only make God detest you.
You must cooperate harmoniously in the performance of your duties. Only then will you get good results and meet with God’s requirements. What is harmonious cooperation? What behaviors don’t qualify as harmonious cooperation? Say you did your duty, and I did mine. Each of us has performed our duties, but there was no tacit understanding between us, no communication or fellowship. We did not reach any kind of mutual understanding. We simply knew deep down, “I’m performing my duty and you’re performing yours. Let’s not interfere with each other.” Is this harmonious cooperation? On the surface, it might seem that there is no dispute or difference in opinion between two such people and they don’t seem to be interfering with each other or restricting one another. However, spiritually, there is no harmonious cooperation between them. They have no tacit understanding or care for one another. All that is happening is that each of them is doing their own thing, and exerting individual effort, without any kind of cooperation. Is this a good way of doing things? It may appear that nobody is watching over, constraining, commanding, or blindly obeying anyone else, and this may even seem reasonable, but there is a kind of corrupt disposition within them. Each of them competes to be a hero, to be superior or to perform better than others, so they do not love, care, or help anyone else. Is there any harmonious cooperation here? (No.) Without cooperation, you are fighting a solitary battle, and you will do many things less than perfectly or thoroughly. This is not the kind of state God wants to see in humans. It does not please Him.
Some people like to do things alone, without discussing things with anyone or telling anyone. They simply do things as they want, regardless of how others might view them. They think, “I’m the leader, and you are God’s chosen ones, so you need to follow what I do. Do exactly as I say—that’s how it ought to be.” They do not notify others when they act and their actions have no transparency. They are always privately exerting themselves and acting in secret. Just like the great red dragon, which maintains its single-party monopoly on power, they wish always to hoodwink and control others, whom they see as insignificant and worthless. They always want to have the final say in matters, without discussing or communicating with others, and they never solicit others’ opinions. What do you think of this approach? Is it possessed of normal humanity? (It is not.) Is it not the nature of the great red dragon? The great red dragon is dictatorial and likes to act in an arbitrary way. Are those with this type of corrupt disposition not the offspring of the great red dragon? This is how people should know themselves. Are you capable of acting like this? (Yes.) When you behave this way are you aware of it? If you are, then there is still hope for you, but if you are not, you are surely in trouble, and in this case, are you not doomed? What is to be done when you are unaware of your acting like this? (We need our brothers and sisters to point it out, to prune us, and to deal with us.) If you first say to others, “I’m someone who naturally loves to lead others, and I’m telling you in advance, so if and when it happens, don’t take issue with it. You’ve got to bear with me. I know it isn’t great, and I’m working on changing it gradually, so I hope you’ll be tolerant of me. When these things happen, bear with me, cooperate with me, and let’s strive together to cooperate in harmony.” Is doing things in this way acceptable? (No. It’s unreasonable.) Why do you say that this is unreasonable? Someone who says this doesn’t intend to seek the truth. They know quite well that doing things in this way is wrong, but they persist in doing it, all while constraining others, demanding their cooperation and support. There is no desire to practice the truth in their intent. They are deliberately going against the truth. A knowing violation—that is what God loathes most. No one but evil people and antichrists are capable of doing such a thing, and to do so is precisely how antichrists act. One is in danger when they intentionally go against the truth and resist God. This is walking the path of the antichrists. These individuals do not practice the truth themselves, but they constrain others and rope them in, trying to make others follow them in going against the truth and resisting God. Are they not deliberately setting themselves against God? Particularly when they act in this way, they preemptively inform the group and ask people to make allowances for them, and then make everyone support them. In doing this they are even more cunning. Saying this is purely a show of force, an ultimatum. What they mean is, “Listen here, I’m not someone to mess with. Ordinary people are nothing to me. What I want is to be in charge. No one had better try discussing things with me—there’s no room for discussion! This is an issue of mine: If you have me do something, then I need to have the final say, and no one had better try to cooperate with me—you won’t be up to it, even if you want to!” Is this laying oneself bare? It is not. This is a way of doing things on Satan’s behalf, not a mere problem of revealing a corrupt disposition. They wish to reign outright, to have what they say go, so that everyone does what they say, then follows and obeys them. Is that not the devil Satan made manifest? This is not just a one-off outpouring of a corrupt disposition. An antichrist’s actions are dictated by their satanic nature. They believe in God and come to the church with the intent to hold power. They mean to set themselves in opposition to God, to lead God’s chosen people onto the road of resistance against Him. They are the same as the heads of all those religious denominations out there. They all have an antichrist’s essence, and like Satan, they all wish to put themselves on equal footing with God. If one of God’s chosen people sees an antichrist made manifest, how should they approach it? Should they help them lovingly? They should expose and discern them, and let others see their satanic countenance, after which they should forsake them. This is a principle that God’s chosen people should understand and have a grasp on. For a person to take an antichrist’s manifestation as an outpouring of a corrupt disposition, a momentary transgression, and still to be beguiled by an antichrist’s so-called “self-knowledge” and supposed actions of opening up and laying themselves bare, and still to fellowship about the truth with them, they would be an absolute fool and clearly have no discernment at all. Tell Me, as such a person as an antichrist pours forth their corrupt disposition, could they open up and lay themselves bare to others? They never reflect or know themselves when they do something wrong, and their laying themselves bare is an act of deception, no more than a self-justification. One needs to discern what it really means to genuinely open up and lay oneself bare. If they say, “I’ve got a bad temper, so don’t provoke me!” is this laying oneself bare? (No.) They are warning you not to provoke them, that provoking them would be asking for trouble. What if they were to say, “In my house, what I say goes. Even my parents have to do what I say. This is the sort of temper I have, and you’ll just have to pardon me for it—there’s nothing I can do about it. My parents say that with great talent comes a great temper, and that’s why they pardon me for it”? Would this be laying oneself bare? (No.) They’re telling you that those of great talent have great tempers, so you should pardon them. If they say, “I’ve had this temper since I was a child. What I say goes. I pursue perfection and what I want. I’m much better now that I believe in God, and with most things, I can be tolerant and keep myself in check, but I still pursue perfection. If something isn’t perfect, it won’t do at all and I can’t accept it.” Is this laying oneself bare? (No.) Then what is this? This is praising themselves and showing off to make others look up to them, telling others how formidable they are, the way thugs and gangsters make violent boasts and flex when they meet, as if to say, “Do you think you can mess with me? If you do, let’s see what our fists have to say about it!” Is this not the very face of Satan? This is the very face of Satan. Not all ways of laying oneself bare are the same. When antichrists lay themselves bare they mean to threaten, intimidate, and frighten others. They always want to subdue others. This is the face of Satan. It is not a normal, simple way of opening up. To live out normal humanity, how should one open up and lay themselves bare? By opening up about the outpourings of their corrupt disposition, allowing others to see through to the reality of their heart, and then, based on God’s words, dissecting and knowing the essence of the problem, and hating and detesting themselves from the bottom of their heart. When they lay themselves bare, they should not attempt to justify themselves or try to explain them away, but instead, they should simply practice the truth and be an honest person. Some people clearly have bad dispositions, but they always speak of themselves as having bad tempers. Is this not just a kind of justification? A bad disposition is just that: a bad disposition. When someone has done something unreasonable or something that harms everyone, the problem is with their disposition and humanity, but they always say they temporarily lost control of their temper or got a bit angry. They never understand the problem in its essence. Is this truly dissecting oneself and laying oneself bare? Firstly, for one to appreciate problems and dissect and lay themselves bare at an essential level, they must have an honest heart and a sincere attitude, and they must speak of what they can understand of the problems in their disposition. Secondly, should one feel that a disposition of theirs is egregious, they must say to everyone, “If I reveal such a corrupt disposition again, feel free to alert me to it, and to deal with me and prune me. If I can’t accept it, don’t give up on me. This side of my corrupt disposition is very severe, and I need the truth to be fellowshiped multiple times to expose me. I gladly accept being pruned and dealt with by everyone, and I hope that everyone will keep an eye on me, help me, and keep me from going astray.” What of such an attitude? This is the attitude of accepting the truth. Some people feel a little uncomfortable when they have said these things. They think to themselves, “If everyone does get up and expose me, what will I do then? Will I be able to take it?” Would you be afraid of others exposing you? (No.) You should be brave in the face of this. It is a shame to be afraid to be exposed. If you really loved the truth, would you be afraid of being humiliated in this way? Would you be afraid of everyone dealing with you? This fear is a thing of weakness, negativity, and corruption. Everyone reveals corruption, but the essence of how they reveal it is different. So long as someone does not knowingly transgress or cause disruptions and disturbances, then theirs is the normal sort of revealing corruption, and everyone will be able to treat it correctly. If someone’s intended goal is to cause disruption or disturbance, or to deliberately damage the work of the church, then they are the people most afraid of being exposed by others, because the essence of this problem is too serious, and the moment they are exposed, they will be revealed and cast out. This fear of theirs weighs heavy on their mind. No matter how God works today, it is all for the purpose of purifying people of their corruption and saving them. If you are the right kind of person, and you strive to perform your duty well and complete God’s commission, most people will see this clearly. They can discern this of you. Also, exposing, pruning, and dealing with people is not making trouble for them. Rather, it is done to help them resolve their problems so they can perform their duties well and protect the work of the church. This is a legitimate thing. A person accepts being pruned and dealt with so that their corrupt disposition can be purified. It is also an attitude one should have to achieve dispositional change. Once someone has this attitude, they also need to find a suitable path of practice, and when it comes time to do so, it is necessary to suffer. When there is a battle, they must forsake the flesh and cast off the constraints of their vanity, pride, and emotions. Once they have broken through the difficulties of the flesh, things become much easier. One might call this freedom and release. This is the process of practicing the truth. There is always some suffering. It is impossible not to suffer at all, because the flesh is corrupt, and people have vanity and pride, and they always consider their own interests. These things are people’s greatest obstacles in practicing the truth. Therefore, it is impossible to practice the truth without suffering a bit. When people taste the sweetness of practicing the truth and experience genuine peace and joy, they become willing to practice the truth, and it becomes easier for them to deny themselves, forsake the flesh, and triumph over Satan. In this way they are completely released and free.
What kind of atmosphere must be developed in church life? An atmosphere in which, when something happens, the thing is addressed, and not the person. Sometimes disagreements will lead to quarrels and tempers will run high, but there is no estrangement at heart. Everything is for the sake of changing people’s dispositions and performing one’s duties well. It is all to practice the truth in order to satisfy God’s will. There is no hatred between people. This is because people are all in the process of trying to achieve salvation. Everyone has the same corrupt dispositions, and sometimes, perhaps, a word lands a bit too harshly or goes a bit too far, or someone has something of a bad attitude. People should not bear grudges about these things. If you still cannot understand or see through the matter, there is one last resort: Pray before God and ponder to yourself, “We believe in and follow the same God, so whatever disputes or differences of opinions we have, whatever it is that is dividing us, we are united before God. We pray to the same God, so what is there that we can’t get past?” If you carefully think about it in this way, will you not overcome these constraints? What is the ultimate purpose of this, when all is said and done? It is to cooperate harmoniously, to seek to satisfy God’s will in all things, and to achieve unity—unity of principle, unity of purpose, and unity of intention and source for action. This is easier said than done. Why is this? (People have corrupt dispositions.) That is right. It is not because of differences in people’s tempers, personalities, or ages, or because people come from different families, but because people have corrupt dispositions. That is the root cause. If you can all clearly see the root cause lies within people’s corrupt dispositions, you can handle things correctly, and the problem will be easy to solve. So, do we still need to discuss here in detail how to resolve corrupt dispositions? No. You have listened to so many sermons that you all know something of the path to take, and you all have some experience in this regard. So long as people can persevere in seeking the truth in all things to resolve matters, reflect on the problems that exist within them, and go on to treat others fairly, then they will basically be able to cooperate in harmony with others. As long as people are capable of accepting the truth, not arrogant or self-righteous, and can approach the suggestions of others correctly, then they are able to cooperate, and if problems do occur, it is easier to cooperate by seeking the truth to resolve them. So long as someone can accept the truth, and open up in fellowship, their partner will easily be moved and be capable of accepting the truth. Then achieving harmonious cooperation is no big issue, and it is easy to reach the goal of unity in heart and mind.
September 5, 2017