Consequences of Shunning Responsibility
By Xiaomo, Spain
One day in February 2021, a leader told me that I was to take charge of newcomers’ churches in Spanish-speaking countries. I was pretty surprised. I’d always been doing gospel work and had never been responsible for churches of new believers. I had no experience in watering newcomers and I couldn’t speak Spanish either. I felt sure I’d run into plenty of problems and difficulties. I wouldn’t know how to solve them. New believers 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 eliminated. The person in that role before had been let go for poor performance. The work in newcomers’ churches was just starting, and lots of it was in an exploratory phase. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t think I could do it. But I knew that I’d been given that duty, and I couldn’t refuse it. I just couldn’t settle my feelings, though. Things were going so well in my gospel work before. I was converting plenty of people every month. But work for newcomers’ churches would be difficult, and I could be eliminated if I did poorly. I had a lot of concerns and I wasn’t confident I could do a good job. I was reminiscing about my time sharing the gospel. I saw there were so many problems in the newcomers’ churches, and some I had no idea how to resolve. I felt a sense of helplessness, and like that duty was too hard. If I didn’t get those things resolved quickly, it could impact the churches’ work. Not knowing what to do, I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to understand His will and submit.
The next day, a brother shared some of the problems in those churches with me. He said, “More and more people are accepting God’s work of the last days. When churches were divided, some of the church leaders were irresponsible and leaving members out. They don’t have group gatherings and can’t read God’s words. Look at the messages from some newcomers.” When I opened up the messages he forwarded me, I saw one 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 Almighty God’s words now.” Another newcomer said, “Brother, I can’t eat and drink Almighty God’s words. I’m outside of God’s house, and I’m really unhappy. Could you help me find gatherings?” And some 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 busy you are or how hard your work is, isn’t this upsetting for you when you see these people who have accepted the gospel can’t gather or read God’s words? If we took a little care of them, they wouldn’t be left out of God’s house.” Hearing this from him and seeing their messages felt awful for me, and I couldn’t hold my tears back. Because of our oversights, new believers were being left out of God’s house. They couldn’t live the church life or read God’s words, hurting their lives. But as for me, I saw all those problems in the churches, but wasn’t taking responsibility. I didn’t have a burden for their lives. I wasn’t thinking about how to get their church life straightened out quickly, but 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 was depressed, and felt so guilty. God’s house put me in charge of working with newcomers, wanting me to be considerate of God’s will. I needed to be of one heart and mind with brothers and sisters to water them, so they could gather, read God’s words, and put down roots on the true way. Churches of newcomers were being established in some countries and there were still lots of problems that needed urgent attention, but I wasn’t being considerate of God’s will. Since accepting that commission, I’d just been thinking of my own future, afraid I’d be exposed and have no outcome 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! Behind that brother forwarding me those newcomers’ messages was God’s will. It was to wake up my numb heart so that I’d see the responsibility I’d taken on and could have a true burden for my duty. I prayed to God, not wanting to think about my own future anymore, but to lean on Him, take on my commission, diligently do my duty, seek the truth with the others, and resolve the churches’ problems as soon as I could.
Then I arranged for some people to help make arrangements for those newcomers who didn’t have gatherings. I also tried to get a real understanding of all the churches’ work. In lots of the newcomers’ churches, some of the supervisors were new to their work and didn’t know how to do it, and some of them were just muddling through, not taking care of new believers’ problems quickly enough. They needed help or to be dismissed. In particular, some newcomers stopped attending gatherings because their clergy were misleading them, and there were more all the time. I couldn’t help but start to worry when I saw these issues. If I was in charge for a while, but things weren’t improving in our work, I had an undeniable responsibility and I was certain to be exposed with time. I was feeling more depressed. I looked like I was always busy rushing to and fro, but in my heart I felt so much pressure. At the end of the month, I saw that the number of new believers not attending gatherings had grown. I felt paralyzed. I thought that I’d just barely taken on that duty, so if I resigned soon, I’d do less evil. If I kept on with it and the new believers’ problems weren’t resolved and they left the church, I’d have done great evil. Then I might be dismissed or even have my destination and outcome ruined. My thoughts of giving up kept growing and ultimately I decided I had to do it. At that thought, I stood up and suddenly felt incredibly dizzy. Everything looked like it was moving and I was about to pass out. I’d never felt anything like that, and I wondered if it was because of stress. I told a sister, and she fellowshiped with me God’s will was in what suddenly happened, and a lesson was to be learned from it. After hearing that, I calmed down, seeking and reflecting, and I prayed to God, asking for His enlightenment to understand my corruption.
I read a passage of God’s words, the second passage on page 672. “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). From this passage of God’s words, I saw that having a burden for God’s commission is related to whether someone can be perfected. The more of a burden someone has and the more mindful they are of God’s burden, the more they are blessed by God. However, those totally lacking responsibility toward the church work and their duty, who just protect themselves without upholding the church’s interests are all selfish and despicable people who can’t be perfected by God. I reflected on how selfish I was, unwilling to take on a real burden or be considerate of God’s will, only thinking of my own future. When there were more newcomers not gathering regularly, I wasn’t urgently seeking a solution to offer them support, but I was worried about being exposed and eliminated if I stayed in the duty. It was a responsibility for those souls that I couldn’t bear. 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 wasn’t benefitting, plus I had to suffer and take on responsibility, I wanted to run away, to leave myself a way out. I was perfectly happy to do the work when things were going well, but when problems cropped up and my own future was threatened, I wanted to give up. I wasn’t genuine toward God and really didn’t have an honest heart. I was a cunning, self-seeking, vile person who couldn’t be relied upon. God wouldn’t perfect someone as selfish and cunning as me. The more I thought about it, the more I hated myself for lacking conscience. I wasn’t worthy of living before God. I was filled with guilt and regret.
Why do we always consider our own interests and future in our duty? Why are we so selfish? I really wondered that too. When I read God’s words dissecting antichrists in my devotionals, I saw this a little more clearly. Almighty God says, “Under normal circumstances, a person should accept and submit to changes in their duty. But they should reflect on themselves, recognize the essence of the problem, and recognize their own shortcomings. This is a very good thing and there are no insurmountable hurdles. It is not complicated; it is very simple and anyone can think it through clearly. When something like this happens to a normal person, then they will at the very least learn something, gaining a more accurate understanding and assessment of themselves. 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 submit; they do not proactively and willingly cooperate, much less genuinely accept it. Instead, they feel revulsion toward it, and they resist it, analyze it, contemplate it, and rack their brains in speculation: ‘Why am I being transferred to work elsewhere? Why can’t I keep doing my current duty? Am I really not a good fit? Are they going to dismiss me, or eliminate me?’ They keep turning over what has happened in their minds, endlessly analyzing it and ruminating over it. … 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? There is only one reason: Any arrangement made by God’s house that concerns them, they will tie a tight hitch connecting that thing to their hope for blessing and future destination. 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 make meticulous preparations and work extremely hard to make plans for myself; I can’t be the least bit sloppy—otherwise, it’ll be easy for people to deceive me and take advantage of me.’ An antichrist sees being blessed as greater than the heavens themselves, greater than life, more important than dispositional change or personal salvation, and more important than 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. And so, in whatever they encounter, no matter how great or small, they are incredibly cautious and attentive, and they always leave a way out for themselves” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. They Want to Retreat When There Is No Position and No Hope of Gaining Blessings). When I thought this over, I saw that protecting myself in my duty and thinking of my own interests was me displaying the disposition of antichrists that God reveals, being really selfish, only thinking about blessings and personal gain. The motive in having faith is to be blessed by God. Whenever something happened, I first thought of my own outcome and destination, valuing blessings as much as life. I considered all angles, on my guard against God, leaving myself an escape route, afraid of being exposed and eliminated if I wasn’t careful. I didn’t have genuine faith in God. Since taking charge of the churches of newcomers, the moment I saw so many difficulties, I wanted to go back to evangelizing. I felt like I did well in that duty, that I was achieving things, so I’d receive God’s promise and have a beautiful destination. Seeing all those problems in the new believers’ churches, I was afraid people would drop out if watering wasn’t done well, that I’d be held responsible and eliminated. I felt my status and future would be impacted and I wouldn’t be blessed, so 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 the place in Europe to spread the gospel, suffering plenty and setting up lots of 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 acted just like Paul, without any sincerity in my duty. I wanted compensation and blessings from God for my superficial efforts, living by the poison of “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” That wasn’t doing a duty. I was just an opportunist, a nonbeliever who’d made my way into God’s house. 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 thinking about my outcome and destination, whether I’d be blessed or not. I was barely human. Seeing this made me feel so guilty, so I said a prayer, not wanting to consider my outcome anymore, but to settle my heart and do my duty well.
I read another passage of God’s words later that was really enlightening, the second passage on page 1167. “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 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. 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). This helped me understand that a duty has nothing to do with being blessed or cursed. As a created being, it’s my obligation to perform a duty without linking that to blessings. Regardless of any difficulties in a duty, I should give it my whole heart and take on that responsibility. Even if I am transferred or dismissed for not doing well, I’ll have something to learn. I shouldn’t give up on it for fear of being exposed and eliminated. God’s house has principles for the dismissal and elimination of people. When people are removed from God’s house, it’s not because of a particular duty they did or because they just made a mistake in their duty. That has never been the case. It’s always because they’re not pursuing the truth, they’re not on the right path, and they consistently refuse to repent. Brothers and sisters who pursue the truth will still be given a chance even after transgressions. With help and dealing with, if someone learns about themselves, repents and changes, they can stay in God’s house. I also learned that when God considers if someone’s doing okay in their duty, 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, if they’re putting their whole heart and all their effort into it. And no matter how many problems someone encounters, as long as they consider God’s will and pursue the truth, God will enlighten them, then anything 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 eliminated. Once I understood God’s will, I said another prayer, wanting to stop thinking of my own gains and losses, but just 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 that existed. I consulted with the leader for the ones I couldn’t resolve, and sought fellowship from other churches’ leaders. Once I understood the principles and practices I could handle many problems. When I changed my attitude and stopped thinking of my own future, but just thought of how to work alongside brothers and sisters to resolve the newcomers’ problems, church life got on the right track after a bit, step by step. The newcomers not gathering also gradually regained their church life and could eat and drink God’s words. Quite a few newcomers also started taking on evangelizing duty. I saw God’s guidance and blessings. God’s statement “Seeking to actively perform one’s duty as a creature of God is the path to success” was something I personally experienced. Thinking back on all of it, from when those churches of newcomers had lots of problems to when they gradually got on the right track and new believers were living normal church lives, it was all the fruit of God’s work. I saw that God’s work really is being done by God Himself, and we just play a part. 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 our duty, and then we’ll see God’s blessings.
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