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The Fruits of Obeying God

24

Xie Cheng

A few days ago, my leader Sister Cheng told me that the church had a new work that required some manpower, and asked me whether I’d be willing to do it. Hearing my leader say this, I was beside myself with joy, and I thought: “For three months now, I’ve been reflecting on how I was replaced because my striving for fame and gain in my duties interrupted and disturbed the church’s work. Now, at last, I can perform my duty again! If my brothers and sisters knew this, they’d definitely pay special regard to me, and would think that I’ve made progress by experiencing this failure.” I agreed to do it there and then. After my leader had gone, every day I looked forward to receiving notice of my new duty, but the days went by and no notice arrived. What did arrive was a stack of paper documents, and my leader asked me to type them up. Holding this stack of paper documents, my heart was full of questions: “What’s the meaning of this? Wasn’t it agreed that I’d be doing a new duty? How then can I be asked to type up all these paper documents? What am I, a typist? What on earth’s going on? If I’m not going to be doing the new duty, then surely my leader has to tell me why!” My mind was in a whirl, and I was unwilling to accept the reality of the situation. Faced with this pile of documents, I thought: “Typing isn’t a real duty. Anyone can do this work. Aren’t I a little overqualified to stay at home just typing up all these documents? If I’m not able to do any important duty, my brothers and sisters will surely say that, after being replaced, I still don’t have any true knowledge of myself and have not truly reflected on myself. What’s more, if I’m staying at home typing all day, then no matter how much I do or how well I do it, no one will know about it and I won’t have a chance to shine. I’ll forever be just a nobody, without any possibility of being promoted or put to some important use.” I was filled with misgivings, but I couldn’t refuse; all I could do was accept the duty.

The Fruits of Obeying God

In the evening, Sister Cheng came and asked me to type up the documents as soon as I could. I said I would, while inwardly I was waiting for her to tell me about going to do the new duty, but she said nothing and left. When I heard her closing the door as she left, the last spark of hope in my heart was extinguished, and I thought: “Sister Cheng didn’t say anything and then left. It looks as though I really won’t be doing any new duty.” When I realized that I wouldn’t be getting what I’d wanted and that I’d only be at home working as a typist, my heart sank, and I simply wasn’t in the mood to start typing away. I knew that my state was wrong, so all I could do was come before God and pray: “Oh, God! I thought that the church would arrange for me to do the new duty, but now they’re only asking me to do typing. If it was just temporary, then I’d be willing to do it, but my leader just didn’t mention anything about me doing that duty. I feel really disappointed, and I don’t know how to get through this situation, much less know what Your will is. Oh, God! This situation has arisen by Your sovereignty and arrangements, but what truth are You trying to get me to understand? May You enlighten and guide me.” After praying, I thought of God’s words that say: “When confronting real-life problems, how should you know and understand God’s authority and His sovereignty? When you do not know how to understand, handle, and experience these problems, what attitude should you adopt to show your intention, your desire, and your reality of submitting to God’s sovereignty and arrangements? First you must learn to wait; then you must learn to seek; then you must learn to submit. ‘Waiting’ means waiting for the time of God, awaiting the people, events, and things that He has arranged for you, waiting for His will to gradually reveal itself to you. ‘Seeking’ means observing and understanding God’s thoughtful intentions for you through the people, events, and things that He has laid out, understanding the truth through them, understanding what humans must accomplish and the ways they must keep, understanding what results God means to achieve in humans and what accomplishments He means to attain in them. ‘Submitting,’ of course, refers to accepting the people, events, and things that God has orchestrated, accepting His sovereignty and, through it, coming to know how the Creator dictates man’s fate, how He supplies man with His life, how He works the truth into man. All things under God’s arrangements and sovereignty obey natural laws, and if you resolve to let God arrange and dictate everything for you, you should learn to wait, you should learn to seek, you should learn to submit. This is the attitude that every person who wants to submit to God’s authority must take, the basic quality that every person who wants to accept God’s sovereignty and arrangements must possess. To hold such an attitude, to possess such a quality, you must work harder; and only thus can you enter into the true reality” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Contemplating God’s words, my heart gradually became quiet. Today, I was asked to do some typing, and although I’m unwilling to accept it or face it, and I’m unable to obey, what I cannot deny is that this matter has happened by God’s sovereignty and arrangements, and is not something that’s been done by some person. God does not do meaningless work, and God’s will is in every single thing He orchestrates. Although I’m not able to thoroughly understand it at the moment, I mustn’t resist it; I must practice in accordance with the way shown by God’s words, and I must learn to wait, to seek, and to obey. Only this is the sense that I, a created being, should possess, as well as the attitude a created being should have toward God’s sovereignty. The church has now arranged for me to do some typing, so I should first of all calm down. Although it is at odds with my conceptions, yet it is also God’s commission that has come upon me and it is a God-given opportunity to perform a duty. I should do all I can to do this work well, and as for whether or not I’ll be able to do the new duty, I’ll wait for God to decide when the time is right, and see how God arranges and orchestrates things. After thinking this, I said a prayer of obedience to God, and I wished to do this work well. Under God’s guidance, I reflected on myself while I typed, and in my break times I thought about this matter over and over. Once again, God’s words resounded in my ears: “‘Seeking’ means observing and understanding God’s thoughtful intentions for you through the people, events, and things that He has laid out, understanding the truth through them, understanding what humans must accomplish and the ways they must keep, understanding what results God means to achieve in humans and what accomplishments He means to attain in them.” God’s words reminded me that in everything that happens there are God’s thoughtful intentions and the truth that I should practice and enter into. In this current matter, I was just obeying temporarily, but I still didn’t understand God’s will, much less know what result God wanted to achieve on me by arranging this situation, and this is precisely what I should have been seeking! I kept thinking deeply about it: When I learnt that the church was to arrange for me to do the new duty, I waited so joyfully, and yet when I saw that I could only be at home typing up documents, I didn’t want to accept it and was unable to obey. Why was that? I couldn’t help but ask myself: Why was there such a huge contrast in my attitude toward these two duties? I kept praying and seeking to God, and these words in a sermon came to mind: “Some people in fulfilling their duties focus on vanity and appearances, ‘I will do whichever duty that can allow me to show off; I won’t do those that involve heavy work that people cannot see, that conceal or hide me, that are about supporting anonymously in the background. I want to do external work and vain work.’ They want to show off in front of others. When they can show off, they are happy, no matter how much they have to suffer or how much effort they have to put out. They are always pursuing to satisfy their own vanity. People like this do not love the truth. You have to care for God’s will and submit to God’s arrangement. However God’s house arranges things, it carries God’s approval, and you have to be submissive. If you can submit to the arrangements of the house of God, that means that you can submit to God. If you do not submit to the arrangements of God’s family, then your submission is empty, because God would never directly order you to do something face to face. God’s family arranges you to fulfill this or that duty based on the requirements of the work. You say: ‘I have a choice, I will do whichever duty I am willing to do, and if I do not like it I will not.’ By fulfilling your duties like this, is this submitting to God? Are people like this people who love the truth? Can they come to know God? So, they are not somebody who reveres God. Being picky with fulfilling duties and being passive and lazy, people like this do not have any reality of truth. They do not have true submission, they are completely working and fulfilling duties based on their own personal preferences. God does not like people like this” (“Sermons and Fellowship About God’s Word ‘Knowing God Is the Path to Fearing God and Shunning Evil’ (I)” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (X)). Comparing my situation with these words in the sermon, I saw my own true colors. When the typing duty was given to me, why was it so hard for me to accept it and obey? As it turned out, I wasn’t performing my duty to satisfy God, but rather I was focusing on my own reputation and status. I would do any duty that allowed me to shine or to show off, but I wasn’t willing to do any duty that went unrecognized and that no one knew about. I felt that, by performing important duties, I’d be able to shine, show myself off, be held in esteem by other people, and maybe also stage a comeback and once again be promoted and put in an important position, and so I would be willing to do important duties; whereas the duty of typing was done in obscurity, with no one aware of it and no one seeing it. No matter how much I did, there would be no chance to distinguish myself and it provided no future prospects, and I felt I would forever be just a nobody. In theory, I knew that no matter what duty I was asked to do, God’s will was behind it and that it was orchestrated and arranged by God, but why wasn’t I able to accept it willingly and gladly? The reason turned out to be that I was pursuing reputation and status. Thinking about it, was it not because I strived for fame and gain and went astray and thus the church’s work was interrupted and disturbed that this stern judgment and chastisement came upon me? After undergoing three months of reflection, I thought I’d changed somewhat and that I could abandon my pursuit of fame, gain and status. But when the church arranged for me to perform a duty, I still harbored my individual preferences and choices and I kept wanting to perform a duty that would allow me to show myself off—this wasn’t the path of pursuing the truth. If I kept on pursuing this way, without truly repenting or changing whatsoever, I would certainly end up doing evil and defying God due to the stubbornness of my corrupt disposition. At that moment, I thought again of the words of God I’d previously read: “‘Seeking’ means observing and understanding God’s thoughtful intentions for you through the people, events, and things that He has laid out, understanding the truth through them, understanding what humans must accomplish and the ways they must keep, understanding what results God means to achieve in humans and what accomplishments He means to attain in them. ‘Submitting,’ of course, refers to accepting the people, events, and things that God has orchestrated, accepting His sovereignty and, through it, coming to know how the Creator dictates man’s fate, how He supplies man with His life, how He works the truth into man.” Only then did I understand that, precisely through using practical situations, God wanted to purify me of my ambitions and desires to pursue fame, gain and status. On the surface, typing up documents may look like an unrecognized, unseen duty, but actually God was using this kind of trial and refinement to help me relinquish, little by little, my pursuit and my yearning for status from my heart. I felt that God was waiting for me to turn back, to be able to thoroughly understand the emptiness of status, to accept this commission from God, and to perform the responsibilities and obligations of a created being so as to comfort God’s heart. Once I’d understood God’s will, my heart at last felt much liberated and calmed, and silently I prayed to God: “Oh, God, I wish to forsake my ambition and desire to pursue status. No matter what duty I’m asked to do, I wish to obey Your orchestrations and arrangements. May You keep my heart, so that I can fulfill this duty well to satisfy Your will. Amen!”

kept calling to God in my heart, asking Him to keep my heart calm

Undergoing this judgment and chastisement, I thought I could obey the situation God had arranged, but only when faced with the actual facts did I see that I was still so far from true obedience. One day, a higher-level leader, Sister Lin, came to my house and we chatted about the duty that had been arranged for me to do over the past few days. Hearing her bring this up, the hope in my heart that I could do the new duty once again reignited, and I thought happily: “Sister Lin is an upper-level leader. This time, it is sure to be settled. Oh, God’s deeds are so wonderful! Just when I was willing to relinquish fame, gain and status and work earnestly at typing, my situation unexpectedly changes. Once again, I have hope that I’ll be able to do an important duty, and I’m so thankful to God. If I spend these few days hurrying to finish typing up these documents, then maybe when I’m done I’ll be allowed to do that duty!” With this mindset, a day later I finished typing the documents, and I handed my work in. Afterward, every day I expected my leader to arrange for me to do the new duty, but when almost a week had gone by, I still hadn’t received any news of being moved on to that duty. One day, Sister Wang brought some more documents to me. Just like the last time, she asked me to type them out. Seeing these documents, I grew somewhat depressed, and I thought: “I’m waiting to go do the new duty. Why are you bringing me so many documents again? I really am tied inextricably to this typing duty?” I later came to learn from Sister Wang that the sister who had previously been responsible for typing had been given a new duty, and I thought: “Have I really been asked to take over this typing duty from the sister?” The more I thought about it, the less willing I was to accept the reality of this situation. When it got to the evening, I’d originally wanted to go to bed a little earlier than normal, but I didn’t feel sleepy at all. My heart was a raging sea of emotions and I felt really upset. I couldn’t help but let out a long sigh, and I kept calling to God in my heart, asking Him to keep my heart calm, so that I would not become negative and weak. At this moment, I thought of the words of God I’d read many times recently: “If you believe in the dominion of God, then you must believe that the things that happen every day, be they good or bad, don’t happen accidentally. It is not that someone doesn’t get on with you or opposes you on purpose; it is actually all arranged and orchestrated by God. What does God orchestrate these things for? It is not to reveal your shortcomings for everyone to see or to expose you; exposing you is not the final aim. The aim is to perfect you and save you. How does God perfect you and save you? Firstly, He makes you aware of your own corrupt disposition, your own nature and essence, your own shortcomings and what you lack. Only by knowing these things and understanding them in your heart can you cast them off. This is an opportunity for you, you must learn to seize this opportunity and know how to seize it; don’t lock horns and don’t resist. If you are always resisting the people, matters, and things that God has arranged around you, if you are always trying to extricate yourself from them, always feeling dissatisfied, always harboring a disagreeable mentality and always misunderstanding, then you will find it very difficult to enter into the truth. Through obeying, seeking, praying more, retreating to your spirit and coming before God then, unbeknownst to you, a change will happen in your inner condition. … God works on each and every person. Regardless of what method He employs, what form it takes or what tone He uses to speak to people, there is only one final aim, and that is to save you. Before saving you, He needs to change you. But can you change without suffering anything at all? You must suffer a little. This suffering can involve many things. God arouses the people, matters, and things around you to allow you to know yourself, or else He deals with you, prunes you and exposes you directly. It is like someone on an operating table who must undergo some pain—would it be possible for them to feel nothing? If every time God prunes and deals with you and every time He arouses people, matters, and things, for you it stirs up your feelings and gives you a boost, then this is correct, and you will have stature and will enter into the reality of the truth” (“To Attain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Christ’s Talks). I contemplated God’s words over and over, and I kept reflecting on my states during this time: With all these things that were happening to me, did I really believe that they were all happening by God’s sovereignty? God holds sovereignty over all things—these are not just empty words. So I must believe from the bottom of my heart that God has the final say with anything that happens, that God does it all, not man, and much less does it happen by accident or coincidence, but rather it is all arranged by God’s hands. Was it my leader who had decided whether or not to let me go do the new duty? Was it my leader who had arranged for me to type up documents? No, it wasn’t, it was God. And since it was God who had orchestrated and arranged these things, what then is God’s will? Before, I thought I had truly given up fame, gain and status and that I was obeying God’s orchestrations and arrangements. But in the end, I was exposed once again in the situation God had arranged for me, and my obedience was still founded on conformity to my own flesh and preferences. Over these past few days, I’d thought that I could go do an important duty and then I’d be able to obey, but actually my corrupt disposition that was in pursuit of reputation and status had not yet entirely changed, otherwise why would I have felt so upset the moment I received those documents? Was this not caused by my ambitions and desires coming to nothing? These things—fame, gain and status—had become deeply rooted within me, and if I didn’t resolve them, I could be dominated by them and controlled by them at any time, any place, and would become their puppet, bound up and unable to break free. How then would I be saved by God? At that moment, I understood that God’s arrangement of this situation was targeted at my inner fatal weakness, and that, in a practical way, God was saving me from corruption and from the harm of Satan. At that moment, my heart became filled with gratitude for God, and I wished to gain a deeper knowledge of my own nature and essence by means of the situation I was in, so that I could have my disposition changed as soon as could be. I came before God and prayed: “Oh, God! How can I understand the essence of fame, gain and status so as to have a change and never again be harmed by my corrupt disposition? Oh, God, I want You to guide me!” After I’d prayed, these words of God came to mind: “A corrupt satanic disposition is very deeply rooted in people, it is their life, and so what is the pursuit of a human? What do people want to gain? Under the driving force of a corrupt satanic disposition, what are people’s ideals, hopes, ambitions, and life goals and directions? Aren’t they contrary to positive things? Firstly, people always want to be stars, famous people, or famous actors. Are these positive things? They wish to gain great fame and prestige, to bring honor to their ancestors, which is not at all in line with positive things. In addition, this runs counter to the law of God’s rule over mankind’s fate” (“Only Seeking the Truth and Obeying God Can Resolve a Corrupt Disposition” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Also, a passage from a sermon came to mind: “Why is man so interested in status, reputation and good, material things? What’s this about? This is Satan’s corruption. What are those famous sayings of Satan? “The worth of other pursuits is small, the study of books excels them all,” and “Those with brains rule over those with brawn.” Everybody wants to be the chief, and no one wants to be the Indian. After people accept these ideas, they then desperately pursue so-called progress, they seek to surpass other people, to distinguish themselves, to be officials and to get academic diplomas. But that is not the fate of some people; some people pursue these things to the very end but they still don’t get them, with the result that they take it too hard and kill themselves” (“How Does God Save Corrupt Mankind” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (III)). From God’s words and the sermon, I saw that, after mankind had been corrupted by Satan, our outlook on life, our values and the goals we pursue all became incompatible with God, and I saw that these things were harming people most deeply. I reflected that, ever since I was little, I’d been taught to pursue to be top dog, and such satanic life philosophies as “Rise above others and bring honor to one’s ancestors,” “Alive, be man of men; dead, be soul of souls,” and “People struggle to go upward, but water flows downward” had already subtly entered my heart, become my life and become the root of my conduct as a person. No matter what group of people I was in, I always sought to be extraordinary and sought to be a celebrity, a leader, an organizer, to have the power to make decisions, and never to be content to be below other people or to be restricted or controlled by them. I recalled how, after I began to believe in God, I still continued to pursue reputation and status as I had before, and no matter what work I was doing, I always did it before men, so that my brothers and sisters and the leaders and workers could see it. I wanted to hear favorable comments about me from other people and to hold a place in their hearts. As long as I had status or I could make brothers and sisters sit up and take notice of me, I was willing to suffer anything. … Only now did I see clearly that I was totally enslaved to status, that I was so tightly constrained and bound by status and could hardly breathe. It was precisely these corrupt dispositions within me that had led me to be unable to obey God’s sovereignty. In my belief in God, I always wanted to be a “superman” or someone of talent. The moment the desires of my flesh were unsatisfied, my heart became pained and distressed. Having come to this understanding, I had no wish to degenerate in this way any longer, so I came before God to seek the path of practice and entry, and I read these words of God: “The functions are not the same. There is one body. Each does his duty, each in his place and doing his very best—for each spark there is one flash of light—and seeking maturity in life. Thus will I be satisfied” (“The Twenty-first Utterance” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Also, in a sermon, it says: “Be content with your lot, pursue the truth in earnest and perform your duty well—this is the best way to live, and you will not live wearisomely. No matter what duty we do in God’s family or what position we occupy, so long as we can live out the truth, satisfy God, and can worship God normally, then this is the happiest way to live” (“The Significance of Obeying God” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (I)). From God’s words and these words in the sermon, I understood that there is no distinction between high and low and there is no division between great and small in the performance of duties, but merely that work is allocated out differently. No matter what duty I do, they are all commissions God gives to me, they are all a responsibility and a burden that must be borne. I am someone who has been corrupted so deeply by Satan and who has not a hint of true obedience to God. By God’s mercy and lenience, I still have the opportunity to work for the church and do my part, and this is something so worthwhile. I understand now that only obeying God’s sovereignty and arrangements, seeking the truth in the people, matters and things that befall me every day, the ability to understand and gain the truth and having true knowledge of God are the best goals to be pursued! Through God’s words and the sermon, I came to understand a little about God’s will and about what I should be pursuing, and I became willing to set my mind to typing up those documents. After that, I saw these words of God that say: “Where you will go every day, what you will do, who or what you will encounter, what you will say, what will happen to you—can any of this be predicted? People cannot foresee all these occurrences, much less control how they develop. In life, these unforeseeable events happen all the time, and they are an everyday occurrence. These daily vicissitudes and the ways they unfold, or the patterns by which they play out, are constant reminders to humanity that nothing happens at random, that these things’ ramifications, and their inevitability, cannot be shifted by human will. Every happening conveys an admonition from the Creator to mankind, and it also sends the message that human beings cannot control their own fates; at the same time every event is a rebuttal to humanity’s wild, futile ambition and desire to take its fate into its own hands. They are like powerful slaps about humanity’s ears one after another, forcing people to reconsider who, in the end, governs and controls their fate. And as their ambitions and desires are repeatedly thwarted and shattered, humans naturally arrive at an unconscious acceptance of what fate has in store, an acceptance of reality, of the will of Heaven and the Creator’s sovereignty. From these daily vicissitudes to the fates of entire human lives, there is nothing that does not reveal the Creator’s plans and His sovereignty; there is nothing that does not send the message that ‘the Creator’s authority cannot be exceeded,’ that does not convey the eternal truth that ‘the Creator’s authority is supreme’” (“God Himself, the Unique III” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I also thought of some words in a sermon: “If we seek the truth then we’ll be able to gain the truth no matter what the situation. This is our aim in life and it is the meaning of life. By understanding the truth and understanding God’s will through all manner of things, we can come to know God in our lives, we can gain the truth, we can ultimately bear good witness for God and we can live meaningful lives.” (“Sermons and Fellowship Concerning God’s Words ‘God Himself, the Unique III’ (V)” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life (XIII)). Contemplating God’s words and the words in the sermon, I gradually came to have some understanding of God’s will. During this time, my leader said on more than one occasion that it would be arranged for me to go do the new duty, but my wish never materialized. This situation made me see clearly that I was so focused on reputation and status. The moment my ambitions and desires were left unsatisfied, my heart became pained and distressed, and living under the domain of Satan I was completely without freedom. Even though I wanted to obey God, because I hadn’t truly gained truth and life, my corrupt disposition was still frequently expressing itself and disturbing my normal state, and so I was unable to obey God. Only now do I have a deep appreciation of how deeply corrupted by Satan I am, and that I certainly need this kind of trial and refining by God in order to be purified. God was using practical refinement to compel me to seek the truth, to learn to understand God’s will and to comprehend the thoughtful intentions of God in arranging these situations for me. When the day comes when I can truly feel God’s love, and will say, “I can obey God,” only then will those words come from the bottom of my heart and only that will be the truest obedience. Undergoing these situations God had arranged for me, I had unconsciously come to some true appreciation of how God dominates and orchestrates the people, matters and things around me and how He wrought the truth into my heart. My knowledge of God also increased somewhat, and I now feel that obeying God and obeying the situations God orchestrates is indeed a prerequisite for gaining the truth and entering into reality. Only by learning to seek the truth, understand the truth and practice the truth in the situations God arranges, as well as having knowledge of God, can one’s heart be at ease and at peace—this way of living is most meaningful and worthy. After I’d come to have some knowledge of God’s words, from my heart I truly accepted the typing duty, and I prayed and relied on God, pondering how I could do this duty well. When I was no longer constrained by reputation and status and put my heart to performing my duty, I felt God guiding me, and living before God every day, I felt so at ease in my heart. What I hadn’t expected was that, once I had become truly obedient, the church really did arrange for me to do the new duty. I really saw how righteous God’s disposition is. While I was being disobedient, God used reality to counter my conceptions and imaginings time and time again, thus allowing me to see the painstaking effort God was putting into saving me. When I had realized my own rebelliousness and corruption and I had let go of it somewhat from my heart, God wasted no time in giving me a chance to perform a duty so that I could be trained. God’s work is so wise, so wonderful, and the grace of God’s salvation is so great!

God’s work is so wise, so wonderful, and the grace of God’s salvation is so great!

During this period, my corrupt disposition was exposed thoroughly and incisively in the people, matters, things and situations God arranged. Through seeking the truth and under the enlightenment and guidance of God’s words, I gradually came to understand God’s will and to realize that God was trying to save me. Only through this experience did I see that the ambition and desire to pursue status had such a powerful hold on me; status had caused me to vacillate between joy and sorrow, and the fetters of status had caused me to become totally enslaved to Satan. Yet God never gave up trying to save me, He still had mercy on me, and based on my needs and my shortcomings, He arranged the appropriate people, matters, things and situations to change me and purify me. Thank You God!

Thanks for listening. All the glory be to Almighty God!

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