Not Fearing God Is a Dangerous Path
By Xiaomo, Spain
Starting last year, I took on responsibility for watering work in a church. One time in a meeting, Brother Wang, the supervisor of gospel work, gave me some feedback, saying lately quite a few new believers were skipping gatherings, we had issues in watering that I needed to address ASAP. I was able to accept his feedback at first. I discussed the problems with brothers and sisters and tried my best to make the necessary changes. But every month some new believers were still leaving groups for various reasons. Brother Wang told me again I wasn’t being responsible in my duty and I hadn’t addressed watering work issues. I was thinking that I’d done my best to fix them and had done what I was supposed to, so why was he focused on me? Was he looking for fault? Besides, there were plenty of reasons for new believers skipping gatherings. Some still had religious notions, which meant they hadn’t clearly fellowshiped the truth, so why wasn’t he reflecting on his own issues? If they’d fellowshiped well, fewer of them would have left the groups. So, I developed a grudge against Brother Wang and disregarded his suggestion. I was surprised when some brothers and sisters who preach the gospel reported this to an upper leader. I didn’t self-reflect when I found out, but I was afraid that after the leader heard that, she’d think I wasn’t doing practical work, that I was a false leader. If it was bad, I might even be dismissed, which would be so embarrassing. Wasn’t that tattling on me to a leader? I got angrier the more I thought about it and resented them even more. When they gave me suggestions later, I felt like they were making a fuss and paid them no mind.
Once in a gathering, a watering deacon had a certain opinion about those preaching the gospel, and said bluntly that they hadn’t resolved newcomers’ religious notions, and that was irresponsible. If their fellowship had been clear, new believers would be attending gatherings. That was exactly how I felt, so I responded immediately, “Yeah, those newcomers are handed over to us for watering while they still have notions. How can we do that successfully?” After that all the watering staff started saying one thing after another. I felt a little unsettled, wondering if I was passing the buck and judging others behind their backs. But then I figured, what I said was entirely accurate. I didn’t think about it more. One time later when I was discussing work with a watering deacon, he suddenly said he had to leave, because Brother Zhang wanted to organize some materials together. I was thinking those preaching the gospel were always saying we had problems, so why did they need our help even with something like organizing documents? I said, “He can’t do it himself? Why do they need you for everything? You have your own work. If he can’t do that on his own, that means he’s incompetent.” My heart pounded after saying that: Why had I said that? Brother Zhang wanted help with documents so gatherings would be effective. That was normal. I was instigating problems between brothers and sisters. Wasn’t that disrupting the work of God’s house? I quickly corrected myself and said, “Go ahead.” But thinking about it after the fact, I felt kind of nervous, so I prayed to God, asking Him to guide me to know myself.
I read this passage ofin a gathering the next day: “How does God scrutinize people’s hearts? He does not look only with His eyes; He sets environments for you, touching your heart with His hands. And why do I say this? Because when God sets an environment for you, He looks at your state of mind, He looks at whether you feel aversion and revulsion, or joy and obedience; He looks to see if you wait quietly, or seek the truth; God looks at how your heart and thoughts change, and what direction they are growing in. Sometimes the state within you is positive, sometimes it is negative. If you are able to accept the truth, then, deep down, you will accept from God the people, events, things, and various situations that He arranges for you, and face them correctly. Through reading God’s words, and through mental reflection, your every thought, idea and mood will change with the words of God—which will all be clear to you, and watched by God. You have not told anyone these things, or prayed about them. You only thought about them in your heart, in your own world—but God knows them well, and they are as clear as day to Him” (“If You Cannot Always Live Before God, You Are a Nonbeliever” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “Not practicing the truth when something happens to you is a transgression. And if you still do not practice the truth when something happens to you again—if you forsake the truth in order to protect your own interests, vanity and pride—what kind of behavior is this? Is it committing evil? If you do not practice the truth at any point and your transgressions grow ever more numerous, then your end is already determined. It is plain to see that if all your transgressions were totaled up, and added to your choices, the things you pursue, and your subjective will, as well as the directions you took and paths you chose when doing things—if these were all added up, then it is possible to determine your end: You should be cast into hell, which means you will be punished. What do you say, is this something trivial? Added up, all of your transgressions are a compendium of evil deeds, and so you should be punished—which is the ultimate consequence when you believe in God but do not accept the truth” (“The Most Important Part of Believing in God Is Putting the Truth Into Practice” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). This taught me that God uses situations He sets up to observe our hearts, to see if we’re annoyed and resistant when things happen, or if we seek and practice the truth. If we’re always irritated by things God arranges and act out of corruption, we’ll commit more and more transgressions and eventually be eliminated. Thinking back recently, every time brothers and sisters made suggestions, I was obsessed with right and wrong, and I was critical of them. I didn’t seek the truth at all and even developed grudges against them. I was judgmental behind their backs. Is that how a believer acts? I was undermining the work of God’s house, which is doing evil. This realization scared me, so I said a silent prayer: “God, I’ve been judgmental and divisive and resisted You. I’m ready to self-reflect—please guide me.”
Later, I read a few passages of God’s words: “Those who believe in God should do things cautiously and prudently, and all that they do should be in accordance with God’s requirements and able to satisfy His heart. They should not be headstrong, doing whatever they please; that does not befit saintly propriety. People must not run amok, waving the flag of God all over the place while swaggering and swindling everywhere; this is the most rebellious sort of conduct. Families have their rules, and nations have their laws—and isn’t it even more so in the house of God? Aren’t the standards even stricter? Aren’t there even more administrative decrees? People are free to do what they want, but the administrative decrees of God cannot be altered at will. God is a God who does not tolerate offense from humans; He is a God who puts people to death. Do people really not know this already?” (“A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth” in). “People who practice the truth will, in the end, be saved and made perfect because of the truth. Those who do not practice the truth will, in the end, bring destruction upon themselves because of the truth. These are the ends that await those who practice the truth and those who do not. I advise those who are not planning on practicing the truth to leave the church as soon as possible to avoid committing even more sins. When the time comes, it will be too late for regret. In particular, those who form cliques and create schisms, and those local bullies within the church, must leave even sooner. Such people, who have the nature of evil wolves, are incapable of change. It would be better if they left the church at the earliest opportunity, never again to disturb the normal life of the brothers and sisters, and thereby avoid God’s punishment” (“A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “I exhort you to get a better understanding of the content of the administrative decrees, and to make an effort to know the disposition of God. If not, you will find it difficult to keep your lips sealed, your tongues will wag too freely with high-sounding talk, and you will unwittingly offend the disposition of God and fall into the darkness, losing the presence of the Holy Spirit and the light. Because you are unprincipled in your actions, because you do and say that which you should not, you shall receive a fitting retribution. You should know that though you are unprincipled in word and deed, God is highly principled in both. The reason you receive retribution is because you have offended God, not a person. If, in your life, you commit many offenses against the disposition of God, then you are bound to become a child of hell. To man it may appear that you have only committed a few deeds that are at odds with the truth, and nothing more. Are you aware, however, that in the eyes of God you are already someone for whom there is no more sin offering? Because you have violated the administrative decrees of God more than once and have, moreover, shown no sign of repentance, there is no other recourse but for you to plunge into hell, where God punishes man. … If in your actions you do not offend the disposition of God, and seek the will of God, and have a heart of reverence toward God, then your faith is up to the standard. Whoever does not revere God and does not have a heart that trembles in fear is highly likely to violate the administrative decrees of God” (“Three Admonitions” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words left me feeling distressed and afraid. God’s disposition tolerates no offense. There are administrative decrees in God’s house. Speaking and acting without fear for God, just like an unbeliever, judging and attacking others, forming a clique and undermining the church’s work is being Satan’s helper. God will never keep someone like that. They lack humanity and don’t uphold the church’s work, so they’re bound to be eliminated and punished for doing too much evil. When Brother Wang pointed out some problems in my duty, that was God dealing with me. But instead of accepting it, self-reflecting, and resolving it in a timely way, I was critical and judgmental, thinking he was finding fault, so I got annoyed with him. When I found out some brothers and sisters had told upper leadership about issues, I still didn’t try to repent, but thought they were snitching on me. That idea made me really biased against them. In a gathering, when a watering deacon expressed discontent with those preaching the gospel, instead of fellowshiping to help him reflect on his own issues, I fanned the flames, using that chance to form a clique against the others, putting the responsibility for newcomers’ poor attendance on them. Then watering staff became biased against them, complaining about them and criticizing them. And when Brother Zhang wanted a watering brother’s help with documents, I jumped on the chance to get in the way, to deride him without considering the church’s interests. I didn’t have any reverence for God or acceptance of the truth. To protect my own name and status, I was provoking trouble and being judgmental. I was forming a faction, doing evil and resisting God. Brothers and sisters mentioned problems to me repeatedly to help me see issues and resolve them quickly so newcomers could attend gatherings normally. That was good for the church’s work. But I didn’t understand God’s will. I just wanted to protect my status and image, and didn’t resolve real problems, which meant lots of new believers weren’t coming to gatherings. My behavior meant I should have been dismissed from my duty, but instead of giving me what I deserved, God enlightened me with His words, stopping me in my evil tracks. I was filled with regret when I saw this. I prayed to God, determined to truly repent.
In a gathering later, I opened up about my recent behavior of being critical and undermining, to help others learn as well. Then, others also started learning about themselves, about their recent corruption and judgmental behavior, and how not cooperating with those who preach the gospel held up the watering work. They were ready to change. I felt even worse when I heard their fellowship. As a leader, I saw lots of newcomers weren’t attending gatherings and some had dropped out. I not only didn’t lead others in reflection, seeing where we were going wrong and seeking the truth, but I took the lead in criticizing others and refusing responsibility, forming a clique in the church. I was doing evil and resisting God, and even guiding others to go against God. I wasn’t worthy of being a leader!
Afterward I was wondering why I was capable of doing these things to disrupt the church’s work. What disposition was this exactly? Then one day I read some of God’s words exposing antichrists’ disgust for the truth that helped me understand myself. God’s words say, “Antichrists’ archetypal attitude toward dealing and pruning is to vehemently refuse to accept or admit it. No matter how much evil they have done, how much harm they have done to the work of God’s house and the life entry of God’s chosen people, they do not feel the slightest remorse or that they owe anything. From this point of view, do the antichrists have humanity? Absolutely not. They have caused all sorts of damage to God’s chosen people, brought such harm to the work of the church—God’s chosen people can see it as clear as day, and they have seen antichrists’ evil deeds, one after another. And yet the antichrists do not accept or acknowledge this fact, they stubbornly refuse to admit that they are in error or that they are responsible. Is this not an indication that they are sick of the truth? Such is the extent to which antichrists are sick of the truth, and no matter how much wickedness they commit, they refuse to admit it, and they remain unyielding to the end. This proves that antichrists have never taken the work of God’s house seriously or accepted the truth. They haven’t come to believe in God—they are minions of Satan, come to disturb and disrupt the work of God’s house. In antichrists’ hearts there are only name and status. They believe that if they were to acknowledge their error, then they would have to accept responsibility, and then their status and prestige would be severely compromised. As a result, they resist with an attitude of ‘deny until you die,’ and no matter what revelations or dissections people make, they do their utmost to deny them. Whether their denial is deliberate or not, in short, in one regard this exposes the antichrists’ nature and essence of being sick of and hating the truth. In another regard, it shows how much the antichrists treasure their own status, prestige, and interests. What, meanwhile, is their attitude toward the work and interests of the church? It is one of contempt and denial of responsibility. They lack all conscience and reason. Does the antichrists’ shirking of responsibility demonstrate these issues? In one regard, shirking responsibility proves their essence and nature of being sick of and hating the truth, while in another regard, it shows their lack of conscience, reason, and humanity. No matter how much the brothers’ and sisters’ entry into life is harmed by their interference and evildoing, they feel no self-recrimination and could never be troubled by this. What sort of creature is this? Even admission to part of their mistake would count as them having a bit of conscience and sense—but the antichrists do not even have that slight amount of humanity. So what would you say they are? The essence of antichrists is the devil. No matter how much damage they have done to the interests of the house of God, they do not see it; they are not remotely troubled in their hearts, and nor do they reproach themselves, much less feel indebted. This is absolutely not what should be seen in normal people. This is the devil, and the devil is devoid of any conscience or sense” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Three)” in Exposing Antichrists). From God’s words exposing antichrists, I saw they really detest and hate the truth in nature. They refuse to admit it no matter how much they harm the work of God’s house, and not only won’t accept the truth and self-reflect when they’re criticized, but even try to protect their name and status, making excuses and refusing responsibility without any pangs of conscience. They’re essentially devils. God’s words were really poignant for me. Leaders should accept brothers’ and sisters’ oversight and fix problems right away. That’s what God requires and it’s a leader’s responsibility and duty. However, I wasn’t doing watering work well, and when it was mentioned to me, I didn’t feel regret or guilt about my neglect of duty, but I criticized the others, twisting their help as trying to find fault with me. And when their feedback compromised my status, I lashed out behind their backs, forming a faction to get others on my side against them. I was blatantly forming a clique, a gang, acting as Satan’s minion and disrupting the work of God’s house. I wasn’t venting my anger at any person, but venting anger with the work of God’s house, doing evil against God! Any reasonable person with a conscience who was criticized for not watering newcomers well, which led to some dropping out, would feel guilt and indebtedness, and would submit and self-reflect. They might want to defend themselves at first, but they’d submit to it later, look at the problems, and take care of new believers. But when I saw such big problems in my duty, I wouldn’t accept others’ help and reflect on the mistakes in my work, seek how to change and practice after that. I just made excuses and fobbed off responsibility. I didn’t want to take the slightest responsibility, but just shield myself. I only thought of my own interests, not the interests of God’s house. I was really lacking humanity. I was totally revealing an antichrist’s disposition. I really hated the truth. Realizing this filled me with even more regret.
I also remembered some of God’s words. “The following passage was recorded in the Book of Jonah 4:10–11: ‘Then said Jehovah, You have had pity on the gourd, for the which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?’ These are the actual words of Jehovah God, recorded from a conversation between God and Jonah. Though this exchange is brief, it brims with the Creator’s care for mankind and His reluctance to give mankind up. These words express the true attitude and feelings that God holds within His heart for His creation. Through these words, which are clear and precise such as are rarely heard by man, God states His true intentions for humanity. This exchange represents an attitude God held toward the people of Nineveh—but what kind of attitude is it? It is the attitude He held toward the people of Nineveh before and after their repentance, and the attitude with which He treats mankind. Within these words are His thoughts and His disposition” (“God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “Although Jonah was entrusted with proclaiming Jehovah God’s words to the people of Nineveh, he did not understand Jehovah God’s intentions, nor did he understand His worries and expectations for the people of the city. With this reprimand, God meant to tell him that humanity was the product of God’s own hands, and that He had expended painstaking effort on each and every single person, that each and every person carried God’s expectations upon their shoulders, and that each and every person enjoyed the supply of God’s life; for each and every person, God had paid the price of painstaking effort. This reprimand also told Jonah that God cherished humanity, which was the work of His own hands, just as much as Jonah himself cherished the gourd. God would by no means abandon mankind lightly, or until the last possible moment, not least because there were so many children and innocent livestock inside the city. When dealing with these young and ignorant products of God’s creation who could not even distinguish their right hands from their left, it was even less conceivable that God would end their lives and determine their outcomes in such a hasty manner. God hoped to see them grow up; He hoped that they would not walk the same paths as their elders, that they would not have to hear Jehovah God’s warning again, and that they would bear witness to Nineveh’s past. Even more so, God hoped to see Nineveh after it had repented, to see Nineveh’s future following its repentance, and more importantly, to see Nineveh live under God’s mercy once again. Therefore, in God’s eyes, those objects of creation who could not distinguish between their right and left hands were Nineveh’s future. They would shoulder Nineveh’s despicable past, just as they would shoulder the important duty of bearing witness to both Nineveh’s past and its future under Jehovah God’s guidance” (“God Himself, the Unique II” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading this made me feel sad. From God and Jonah’s conversation, I saw God’s love and mercy for mankind. God knew everyone in Nineveh like the back of His hand and He paid a real price for every single one of them. He didn’t want to give them up until the last moment. I thought about how new believers have just accepted God’s work of the last days, don’t understand many truths, and are weak in their lives. They’re likely to quit when they face the religious world’s antichrists’ disruption. Brothers and sisters were all thinking about how to work together to support them so they could set roots on the true way. That’s why they were giving me those suggestions and pointing out problems. But I refused to accept it. Lots of new believers weren’t attending gatherings because of my irresponsibility, but I didn’t feel bad—how was I even human! I said a prayer: “God, I’m not going to shirk responsibility, and I’m ready to repent, to lean on You to find solutions and support these new believers well.”
After that, I discussed the issues in our watering work with others and found out lots of newcomers weren’t clear on the truth of God’s work, so when the pastors were spreading religious notions, they developed doubts about God’s work and started wavering. So we held gatherings for them addressing these problems and emphasized God’s three stages of work and His judgment work of the last days, as well as why God needs to come in the flesh to work. When we were done, a newcomer said, “I had so many notions, but not anymore, thanks to your fellowship. I hope we can have more fellowship with you because lots of others still don’t understand this.” And an older brother said, “I used to be really confused about God’s work and was thinking about dropping out of the gathering group. But thanks to your fellowship everything’s clear for me now. I’m so happy, and I’ll attend more gatherings. Thank!” I was really moved to hear them say those things, but I also felt really bad. If I’d accepted others’ suggestions and done more practical work before, addressing newcomers’ difficulties, some of them wouldn’t have weakened and dropped out. After that, I opened up to Brother Wang about the corruption I’d showed, and he also opened up about his own state and problems in his gospel work. He said he wanted to change. The barrier between us disappeared right away and I felt so relieved. I started making an effort to coordinate with those who preach the gospel, and though there was a little conflict, we all had a common goal: to water newcomers well so they could gain a foundation in the true way quickly.
Afterward I was wondering how to approach criticisms in the future that would be in line with God’s will. I read this in God’s words: “When it comes to being pruned and dealt with, what is the very least that people should know? Being pruned and dealt with must be experienced to adequately perform one’s duty. They are also indispensable, and something that people must face on a daily basis and often experience in their faith in God and attainment of salvation. No one can be apart from being pruned and dealt with. Is pruning and dealing with someone something that involves their future and fate? (No.) So what is being pruned and dealt with for? Is it in order to condemn people? (No, it’s helping people understand the truth.) That’s right. That’s the most correct understanding of it. Pruning and dealing with someone is a kind of discipline, a kind of chastening, but it’s also a form of helping people. Being pruned and dealt with allows you to alter your incorrect pursuit in time. It allows you to promptly recognize the problems you currently have, and allows you to recognize the corrupt dispositions you expose in time. No matter what, being pruned and dealt with helps you perform your duties better, it allows you to fulfill your duties according to principles, it allows you to gain salvation in time, it saves you from going astray in time, and it prevents you from causing catastrophes” (“They Do Their Duty Only to Distinguish Themselves and Feed Their Own Interests and Ambitions; They Never Consider the Interests of God’s House, and Even Sell Those Interests Out in Exchange for Personal Glory (Part Eight)” in Exposing Antichrists). Here I understood that being pruned and dealt with is God’s discipline, not someone trying to be difficult or overly critical. It’s to help us reflect on ourselves, resolve problems in our states or our duties, and do our duties better. It’s one of the ways God’s work changes and cleanses us, and something we have to experience to be saved. Faced with criticisms and suggestions I should accept them from God, handle them properly, and self-reflect based on God’s words. That’s after God’s heart. This was enlightening for me, and I knew how to regard brothers’ and sisters’ criticisms in the future.
Then once, Brother Wang told me a few new believers weren’t gathering and didn’t have support. He didn’t know why. He wanted me to look into it. I thought to myself we’d already offered them lots of help and support, and sought principles with leaders. We’d given up on them after confirming they were nonbelievers, so what was there to find out? But then I thought he was considering the interests of God’s house, taking responsibility for newcomers. I should submit to it and see what was going on, then turn things around if there were problems. When I looked into details, I saw they really were nonbelievers, but I also saw some problems in our watering work. That helped me see that there was a lot to be gained from accepting suggestions, otherwise I wouldn’t have seen the problems or corrected them, and that would be bad for church work.
These experiences really showed me that by accepting brothers’ and sisters’ suggestions in my duty, having a heart of seeking and not making excuses, I can see and reflect on my corruption, and find mistakes in my duty more quickly. If I always hate and reject the truth, that’ll not only keep me from changing my corruption, but I’ll hurt the work of God’s house. Then God would end up eliminating me. I also saw no matter what I encounter, no matter how much I dislike it, I should have fear for God and not act out of blindness. I need to pray to God and seek the principles to avoid doing more evil.