A Lesson Learned in Obedience
By Mu Qing, USA
One day in September of last year, my leader assigned me to supervise a newly established church, while Brother Eric would take over supervising my current church. When he told me about this, I was really unwilling to take the assignment. I thought: There were all kinds of problems with this new church and their projects were in bad shape, they were understaffed with leaders and workers, and there was much work they couldn’t do, so I’d have to teach them or do it myself. I thought that supervising that church would be so much trouble. Not only would it take a lot of suffering and sacrifice, but there was no guarantee of success. It was nothing like my current church, which got good results in gospel work, and had newcomers who could work independently and could share the burden of some of my work, so I didn’t have to go to so much trouble. The more I thought, the less I wanted to take on that church. So I told the leader: “Eric has just started and isn’t ready to take on this job alone. If I leave now, he might not be able to handle all the work here, and the church’s work might be affected. So can I stay here?” The leader said Eric was very solid in his duty and could be cultivated. He’d thought it through and concluded that it would be better for me to go. When I heard that, I knew the leader had already made up his mind and I just had to accept it. But later on, whenever I thought about the new church, I’d feel worried and anxious. I knew I was in a bad state and was just passing off my duty, so I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to submit and experience this situation.
Later, I came across this passage of (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). This passage dissects how those that desire leisure are not sincere in their duties. They always pick light work and are picky about things. They always choose easy duties that don’t have many responsibilities, and for those duties that require suffering and sacrifice, they have plenty of reasons to reject and pass them off. God says that such people aren’t worthy of fulfilling duties and He finds them disgusting. After considering God’s words, I felt really guilty. God had exposed my exact state. When my leader assigned me to supervise the new church, I was incredibly unwilling, knowing that since work in the church had just gotten going, results weren’t great and there was a shortage of leaders and workers. If I wanted the work to be done well, it would take a lot of suffering and effort. As for my current church, not only did we get good results in gospel work, we were also well staffed with leaders and workers, and so assigning work was an easy task. Comparing the churches, I much preferred to stay put, not supervise the new one. When my leader fellowshiped with me, I even made up an excuse to pass it off, saying Eric had only average caliber and couldn’t handle the work alone right away. So if I left, church work would be impacted. Outwardly, it seemed like I bore a great burden, and was looking out for the church with everything I said. But in reality, I was making up excuses to get out of supervising the new church. I was coddling my flesh, unwilling to suffer and sacrifice. I only considered my own flesh, and went with whatever was easiest and most leisurely. I was choosy and particular about my duties, I was conniving and treacherous with God and wasn’t willing to take on any burdens. I was as slippery and sly as a nonbeliever. The church had cultivated me for years, but when a new church was having issues and needed my help, if I pandered to my flesh and didn’t do the work needed, the church’s work would be affected, newcomers wouldn’t be cultivated and the gospel work would continue to be delayed. Eric might not have had the best caliber and work performance, and couldn’t take on all the work alone right away, but my original church was more stable and Eric was acquainted with it. If I partnered with him when needed, the church’s work wouldn’t be affected that much. Overall, my leader had made the right call by assigning me to the new church. Continually pandering to my flesh and not protecting the church’s work disgusted God and I wasn’t worthy of His trust. Having realized this, I silently prayed to God: “Dear God, I’m ready to submit to this environment. My leader assigned me to supervise this new church and I’m willing to cooperate and put everything into this duty. I can’t live in such a selfish and despicable state anymore.”: “When performing a duty, people always pick light work, that will not tire them out, that will not involve braving the elements outdoors. This is called picking easy jobs and shirking hard ones, and it is a manifestation of coveting the comforts of the flesh. What else? (Always complaining when their duty is a little hard, a little tiring, when it involves paying a price.) (Being preoccupied with food and clothing, and the indulgences of the flesh.) These are all manifestations of coveting the comforts of the flesh. When such a person sees that a task is too laborious or risky, they foist it off on someone else; they themselves only do leisurely work, and make excuses for why they cannot do this one, saying that they are of poor caliber and do not have the requisite skills, that it is too much for them—when in fact, it is because they covet the comforts of the flesh. … There’s also when people always complain while performing their duty, when they don’t want to put any effort in, when, as soon as they have a little downtime, they take a rest, chatter idly, or partake in leisure and entertainment. And when work picks up and it breaks the rhythm and routine of their lives, they are unhappy and dissatisfied with it. They grumble and complain, and they become careless and perfunctory in performing their duty. This is coveting the comforts of the flesh, is it not? … No matter how busy the work of the church is or how busy their duties are, the routine and normal condition of their lives is never disrupted. They are never careless about any small details of the life of the flesh and control them perfectly, being very strict and serious. But, when dealing with the work of God’s house, no matter how great the matter and even if it might involve the safety of the brothers and sisters, they deal with it carelessly. They do not even care about those things that involve God’s commission or the duty they should fulfill. They take no responsibility. This is coveting the comforts of the flesh, is it not? Are people who covet the comforts of the flesh suitable for performing a duty? Bring up the subject of performing their duty, talk about paying a price and suffering hardship, and they keep shaking their head: They would have too many problems, they are full of complaints, they are negative about everything. Such people are useless, they are not entitled to perform their duty, and should be cast out”
After that, I came upon another passage of God’s words. “All that God asks people to do, and all of the various kinds of work in the house of God—these all need people to do them, they all count as people’s duties. No matter what work people do, this is the duty they should perform. Duties cover a very broad scope, and involve many areas—but no matter what duty you perform, put simply this is your obligation, it is something you should be doing. As long as you strive to do it well, God will praise you, and will acknowledge you as someone who truly believes in God. No matter who you are, if you are always trying to avoid or hide from your duty, then there is a problem: To put it mildly, you are too lazy, too deceitful, you are idle, you love leisure and loathe labor; to put it more seriously, you are unwilling to perform your duty, you have no commitment, no obedience. If you can’t even put the effort into this minor task, what can you do? What are you capable of doing properly? If a person is truly devoted, and has a sense of responsibility toward their duty, then as long as it is required by God, and as long as it is needed by the house of God, they will do anything they are asked, without selection. Is it not one of the principles of performing one’s duty to undertake and complete anything that one is able and ought to do? (Yes.)” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Ten (Part Four)). Through God’s words I realized that no matter what duty the church assigned, whether easy or hard, it was my responsibility, and I should go along with it. I should do my best to take it on and work hard to achieve results. This was the conscience and reason I should have. My leader had assigned me to supervise the new church, and even though there were some problems in the work there, I couldn’t pander to my flesh and always be picky. I just had to rely on God to get things done, get the church’s work up to speed and do my duty. That is what I had to do. After that, I began looking into the church’s staff and current work situation, fellowshiped on principles and started training them. Later on, I discovered the reason the gospel work was suffering was the watering workers were slacking off at following up. They didn’t fellowship on and resolve the religious notions of people investigating God’s last days’ work, and weren’t following through with certain aspects of their work. So I summarized and fellowshiped on their aberrations and oversights, assisting, pruning and dealing with those that needed it until all their issues were resolved. Gradually, the brothers and sisters began to improve in their duties, and the church’s work began to pick up. I felt really confident and at ease working in this way. I thought that after going through all that, I’d already achieved some transformation, but soon after that, something else happened which exposed me once again.
Near the end of September, my leader informed me that he planned to assign me to supervise another new church. I nearly lost it when I heard this: “That church will be even harder to supervise than my current one. Not only are they understaffed with leaders and workers, they’re mostly new to their roles. It’s going to take a lot of suffering and a big mental commitment to get this church working well.” I really didn’t want to take the assignment. I couldn’t help but say to my leader: “Why do I always have to supervise these new churches? The church I’m supervising now is just starting to improve. Can you assign some other brother or sister to supervise that church?” As soon as I said that, I realized that I was trying to pass off my duty again. I was still pandering to my flesh and not wanting to make sacrifices. I told myself: “It is with God’s will that I find myself in this situation, so even though I don’t understand, I should first submit.” I felt awful when I got off that call. Why was it that each time I was reassigned, I only ever thought about how to live more leisurely, instead of heeding God’s will and submitting to His orchestrations and arrangements? The more I reflected, the worse I felt. So, I prayed to God, asking that He enlighten and guide me to reflect and know myself.
Later on, I read two passages of God’s words that had a deep impact on me. (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Walk the Path of Peter). “Their mottos are, ‘Life is just about eating and dressing,’ ‘Seize the day for pleasure, for life is short,’ and ‘Drink today’s wine today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.’ They enjoy each day as it comes, they have as much fun as they can, and they give no thought to the future, much less do they consider what responsibilities a leader should fulfill and what duties they should perform. They parrot a few words and phrases of doctrine and do a few tasks for appearance’s sake as a matter of course, but they do not do any real work. They do not try to delve into real problems in the church in order to completely solve them. What is the point in doing such superficial work? Is this not deceitful? Can serious responsibilities be entrusted to this kind of fake leader? Are they in line with principles and conditions of God’s house for selecting leaders and workers? (No.) These people don’t have any conscience or reason, they are devoid of any sense of responsibility, and yet they still wish to serve in an official capacity as church leader—why are they so shameless? Some people who have a sense of responsibility are of poor caliber, and cannot be leaders—and that’s to say nothing of human trash that has no sense of responsibility at all; they are even less qualified to be leaders” (The Word, Vol. 5. The Responsibilities of Leaders and Workers). Only after reflecting on God’s words did I realize that the reason I had such a strong response each time I was reassigned and wasn’t willing to suffer and bear a burden was mainly because I was too lazy and coveted leisure. From an early age, I had been influenced and molded by Satan, and phrases like “Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost,” “Drink today’s wine today, and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow” became the satanic philosophies I lived by. My views on life and my values became twisted and depraved. I thought that while we’re alive we should enjoy ourselves and there was no need to exhaust ourselves. We should treat ourselves well, be good to ourselves. Back before I was a believer, I was happy to just follow protocol and complete my tasks in my job, and wouldn’t do any more than was required. Sometimes when we had to work overtime, I would think it was too stressful and tiring and would ask for a leave. After entering the faith, I still sought the same things. I tried to avoid suffering and making sacrifices, and wanted my duty to be relaxed and leisurely with no issues whatsoever. So when my leader assigned me to supervise these two churches, and they were beset by issues, and would involve a lot of suffering and sacrifice, I didn’t want to do it and tried to pass the duties off. But, actually, I knew that I had been working for a while and had some experience, so I should supervise churches with more difficulties. I just didn’t want to forsake my flesh and take on a heavy burden. God had graced me with the opportunity to practice being a church supervisor, so I should carry out my responsibilities to repay God’s love. But I didn’t do my duty well, and was always trying to slack off and relax. I was living by these satanic notions, was selfish, despicable and didn’t have the slightest bit of character or integrity. Upon realizing this, I felt that would be dangerous to go on in that way. So I prayed to God, and was willing to change my attitude towards my duty.says, “Until people have experienced God’s work and understood the truth, it is Satan’s nature that takes charge and dominates them from within. What, specifically, does that nature entail? For example, why are you selfish? Why do you protect your own position? Why do you have such strong emotions? Why do you enjoy those unrighteous things? Why do you like those evils? What is the basis for your fondness for such things? Where do these things come from? Why are you so happy to accept them? By now, you have all come to understand that the main reason behind all these things is that Satan’s poison is within man. So what is Satan’s poison? How can it be expressed? For example, if you ask, ‘How should people live? What should people live for?’ people will answer, ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.’ This single phrase expresses the very root of the problem. Satan’s philosophy and logic has become people’s lives. No matter what people pursue after, they do it for themselves—and so they live only for themselves. ‘Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost’—this is the life philosophy of man, and it also represents human nature. These words have already become the nature of corrupt mankind, the true portrait of corrupt mankind’s satanic nature, and this satanic nature has already become the basis for corrupt mankind’s existence; for several thousand years, corrupt mankind has lived by this venom of Satan, right up to the present day”
Later on, I came across this passage. “In fact, every duty involves some hardship. Physical labor involves physical hardship, and mental labor involves mental hardship; each has its difficulties. Everything is easier said than done. When people really do act, in one regard, you must look at their character, and in another regard, you must look at whether they love the truth. Let us first speak of people’s character. If a person is of good character, they see the positive side of everything, and are able to accept and comprehend these things from a positive perspective and on the basis of the truth; that is, their heart, character, and spirit are righteous—this is from the perspective of character. Next let us talk about another aspect—whether or not one loves the truth. Loving the truth refers to being able to accept the truth, which is to say if, regardless of whether or not you comprehend God’s words, and whether or not you understand God’s will, regardless of whether your view, opinion, and perspective about the job, the duty you are supposed to perform, is in line with the truth, you are still able to accept it from God, and are obedient and sincere, then this is enough, this qualifies you to perform your duty, it is the minimum requirement. If you are obedient and sincere, then when you carry out a task, you are not careless and perfunctory, and do not look for ways to slack off, but put all of your body and soul into it. Having the wrong state within produces negativity, which makes people lose their drive, and so they become careless and sloppy. They know full well in their hearts that their state is not right, and yet still do not try to fix this by seeking the truth. Such people have no love for the truth, and are only slightly willing to perform their duty; they are disinclined to make any effort or suffer hardship, and are always looking for ways to slack off. In fact, God has already seen all of this—so why does He pay no heed to these people? God is just waiting for His chosen ones to wake up and identify them for what they really are, for them to expose and cast them out. However, such people still think to themselves, ‘Look how clever I am. We eat the same food, but after working you are completely exhausted. I’m not tired at all. I’m the smart one; anyone who does real work is an idiot.’ Is it right for them to view honest people in this way? No. In fact, people who do real work when they perform their duty are practicing the truth and satisfying God, and so they are the smartest people of all. What makes them smart? They say, ‘I don’t do anything that God doesn’t ask me to do, and I do everything He does ask me to. I do whatever He asks, and I put my heart into it, I put everything I can into it, I don’t play tricks at all. I’m not doing this for any person, I’m doing it for God. God loves me so much, I should do this to satisfy God.’ This is the right state of mind, and the result is that when the time comes for the church to be cleansed, those who are slippery in performing their duty shall all be cast out, while those who are honest people and accept God’s scrutiny shall remain. These honest people’s state goes from strength to strength, and they are protected by God in all that befalls them. And what earns them this protection? Because in their heart, they are honest. They don’t fear hardship or exhaustion when they perform their duty, and are not picky about anything they are entrusted with; they do not ask why, they just do as they are told, they obey, without examining or analyzing, or taking anything else into consideration; they have no ulterior motives, but are capable of obedience in all things. Their inner state is always very normal; when faced with danger, God protects them; when illness or pestilence befalls them, God also protects them—they are greatly blessed” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Ten (Part Four)). Through God’s words I saw that those with a conscience and a good character have a sincere attitude towards duty. When they encounter issues in their duties, they bear the suffering, make sacrifices and strive to improve, doing their best to achieve good results in what they do. Such people receive God’s enlightenment and guidance in their duties and their condition keeps improving. But those who lack conscience and reason moan and groan as soon as they encounter issues in their duties, only consider their own interests, don’t cooperate with the heart and even think themselves clever for doing so. God truly despises such people and ultimately exposes them and casts them out. Wasn’t I just like that, thinking myself clever? Outwardly I could fool my leader—I’d avoid the suffering that came with supervising the new church, and the leader didn’t know what I was thinking and couldn’t say anything against me. But God scrutinizes our every thought. If God saw that I was always slacking off in my duty and coveting leisure, without protecting the church’s work at all, He would despise me. If I continued to not repent, I’d be thoroughly abandoned and cast out by God. I thought of certain people who’d been cleared out in the past—they would always slack off and go through the motions and were removed from the ranks of those with a duty, victims of their own supposed cleverness. Reflecting on all this, I felt a bit scared and so I prayed to God, willing to rectify my attitude towards my duty, take on responsibility and do my duty well.
Later on, I read a passage of God’s words that gave me a path of practice. Almighty God says, “After accepting what was entrusted to him by God, Noah set about carrying out and accomplishing the construction of the ark spoken of by God as if it was the most important thing in his life, without any thought of delay. Days passed, years went by, day after day, year after year. God never put any pressure on Noah, but throughout all this time, Noah persevered in the important task entrusted to him by God. Every word and phrase that God had uttered was inscribed on Noah’s heart like words carved upon a stone tablet. Heedless of the changes in the outside world, of the ridicule of those around him, of the hardship involved, or of the difficulties he encountered, he persevered, throughout, in what had been entrusted to him by God, never despairing or thinking of giving up. God’s words were inscribed upon Noah’s heart, and they had become his everyday reality. Noah prepared each of the materials needed for building the ark, and the form and specifications for the ark commanded by God gradually took shape with each careful strike of Noah’s hammer and chisel. Throughout wind and rain, and regardless of how people mocked or slandered him, Noah’s life proceeded in this manner, year after year. God secretly watched Noah’s every action, without ever uttering another word to him, and His heart was touched by Noah. Noah, however, neither knew nor felt this; from start to finish, he simply built the ark, and assembled every kind of living creature, in unwavering fealty to God’s words. In Noah’s heart, there was no higher instruction that he ought to follow and carry out: God’s words were his lifelong direction and goal. So, no matter what God said to him, no matter what God asked him to do, commanded him to do, Noah completely accepted it, and committed it to memory, and took it as his life’s endeavor. He not only did not forget, he not only fixed it in his mind, but also made it the reality of his own life, using his life to accept, and carry out, God’s commission. And in this way, plank by plank, the ark was built. Noah’s every move, his every day, were dedicated to the words and commandments of God. It might not have seemed that Noah was performing a momentous undertaking, but in the eyes of God, everything Noah did, even his every step he took to achieve something, every labor performed by his hand—they were all precious, and deserving of commemoration, and worthy of emulation by this mankind. Noah adhered to what had been entrusted to him by God. He was unwavering in his belief that every word uttered by God was true; of this, he had no doubt. And as a result, the ark came to completion, and every manner of living creature was able to live upon it” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Excursus Two (Part One)). Noah’s story had a deep impact on me. After being entrusted with God’s commission, Noah never considered his own interests, thinking only of carrying out God’s commission. He put aside everything in his life, and even though building the ark was a massive project with many difficulties, Noah kept building, plank by plank, rain or shine for 120 years. He never complained and ultimately carried out God’s commission and earned His approval. Comparing my own attitude with Noah’s attitude towards God’s commission, I felt bad. I hadn’t gone through one-ten-thousandth of the suffering that Noah had, and when I had the slightest difficulty or stress, I’d complain and want to pass my job off. I didn’t have any loyalty or testimony through practice of truth. I felt incredibly indebted to God and remorseful. I prayed to God and repented, wanting to stop coveting leisure and start emulating Noah to do my duty well. Even if I encountered problems and difficulties in my duty, I should make sacrifices and bear hardship to do my duty and comfort God’s heart. After that, I sought out my leader and said: “I’m ready to start supervising that new church. Going forward, wherever you need me to go, I’ll submit to the church’s arrangements.” I felt much more at ease after I said that. At that time, however, my leader assigned Sister Sasha to supervise that church, instead of sending me.
But soon after, I heard that Sasha was having trouble keeping up with all her work in the church, and wouldn’t be able to keep supervising there. This meant that the leader might want me to go after all. As soon as I thought about all the problems in that church, I immediately felt stressed. But then I realized that I was pandering to my flesh again and not willing to suffer, so I prayed to God: “Dear God, I don’t want to always consider my own interests when things come up. Please guide me to be able to submit.” Just then, I recalled God’s words: “If a person is truly devoted, and has a sense of responsibility toward their duty, then as long as it is required by God, and as long as it is needed by the house of God, they will do anything they are asked, without selection. Is it not one of the principles of performing one’s duty to undertake and complete anything that one is able and ought to do? (Yes.)” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Ten (Part Four)). God’s words made me realize that no matter what role they’re assigned, people who are loyal to God do everything in their power to fulfill their duties and responsibilities. This is someone who upholds church work. I found myself in this situation again because my help was needed in the church’s work. I couldn’t keep considering my own interests and coveting leisure. Whether or not I was assigned as supervisor, I was willing to submit. Later on, my leader had me go oversee that church and, in that moment, I calmly accepted. After taking over the church, I worked on it a little bit at a time, and through checking in and following up, I was able to discover and resolve some issues.
On the surface, it seemed the reassignment took more out of me, but actually, the move protected and motivated me. The church I used to supervise was more established and produced decent results, so I unconsciously became complacent and started falling into routine. I became increasingly lazy and passive. With the new church, there were more problems, but this motivated me to pray and rely on God in hardship, and seek the truth to resolve issues. I felt closer to God and learned a great deal. Thank God!