8. Realizing I’ve Been Walking the Path of the Pharisees
Wuxin Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province
Something we have always discussed in previous communions is the paths walked by Peter and Paul. It is said that Peter paid attention to knowing himself and God, and was someone God approved, while Paul only paid attention to his work, reputation and status, and was someone God despised. I have always been afraid of walking Paul’s path, which is why I normally often read God’s words about Peter’s experiences to see how he came to know God. After living like this for a while, I felt I had become more obedient than before, my desire for reputation and status had dimmed, and that I had gotten to know myself a little. At this time, I believed that even though I was not completely on Peter’s path, it could be said that I had touched the edge of it, and at least it meant I was not heading down Paul’s path. However, I would be shamed by the revelations of God’s word.
One morning, when I was practicing spiritual devotions, I saw the following words of God: “Peter’s work was the performance of the duty of a creature of God. He did not work in the role of an apostle, but during the course of his pursuit of a love of God. The course of Paul’s work also contained his personal pursuit…. There were no personal experiences in his work—it was all for its own sake, and not carried out amid the pursuit of change. Everything in his work was a transaction, it contained none of the duty or submission of a creature of God. During the course of his work, there occurred no change in Paul’s old disposition. His work was merely of service to others, and was incapable of bringing about changes in his disposition. … Peter was different: He was someone who had undergone pruning, and had undergone dealing and refinement. The aim and motivation of the work of Peter were fundamentally different to those of Paul. Although Peter did not do a large amount of work, his disposition underwent many changes, and what he sought was the truth, and real change. His work was not carried out simply for the sake of the work itself” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words touched my soul and I fell silent: Peter was someone who fulfilled his duty as a created creature. He worked through his process of seeking to love God as opposed to his role as an apostle. But was I someone fulfilling his duty as a created creature or just doing my job as a worker? At this time, I thought back to various situations of the past: When the church had a lot of work to take care of, other brothers and sisters would say: You are truly burdened with God’s work. I would then blurt out: We leaders have no choice but to deal with it. Sometimes, at host families or in front of co-workers, I would want to be considerate to my physical body and relax myself, but then I would think: No, I’m a leader, I must live out a normal humanity and not be debaucherous. When I didn’t feel like eating and drinking the words of God, I would also think: As a leader, if I don’t eat and drink God’s words, then how would I be able to resolve other people’s problems? Sometimes I would go with a co-worker to the host family she was staying with, and when I saw that the way the host sister treated me was not as enthusiastic as she treated her, I would get upset: You might not know who I am, but I am her leader. Sometimes, for whatever reason, I would not feel like communicating to host brothers and sisters, but then I would think: As a leader, how would I be seen by people if I come but don’t communicate to them? Since I am a leader I should have to communicate to host families. … These various behaviors made me see: I was working because of status. Whether it was communicating to people, attending meetings, or handling general affairs, it was all only because I was a leader that I felt obligated to fulfill a bit of my duty and do a bit of work. I was not fulfilling my duty as a created creature, and moreover was not working through my process of loving God like Peter had. If things were to continue as before, when the day comes that I am dismissed and replaced, I perhaps would not keep fulfilling my duty the way I do now. It was only then that I saw that I was not a person who practiced the truth or was considerate to God’s will. Instead, I was a despicable villain who only worked for reputation and status. It is impossible to have loyalty toward God working the way that I had because it was merely perfunctory. I was not willingly practicing the truth and being considerate to God’s will, because “it was all for its own sake, and not carried out amid the pursuit of change.” How could such service possibly satisfy God’s will? Paul was working in his position as an apostle; his work was full of transactions. I was working and expending in my position as a leader. How are such intentions and purposes for believing in God any different to Paul’s?
At this point, I fell down before God: Oh God! Thank You for timely salvation, which made me up from my stupor, realize my real situation, and see that I was still walking the path of Paul the Pharisee. My work and the fulfilling of my duty was exactly the same as the Pharisees, which must have disgusted You. Oh, Almighty God! I am willing to turn around my wrong intentions and conceptions under the guidance of Your word. I am willing to fulfill my duty as a created creature and follow the example of Peter in doing what I ought to be doing through the process of loving God, no longer working in the position of my role as a leader, and do my utmost to seek and move forward toward Peter’s path!