Reflections After Blindly Worshiping People

October 17, 2022

By Jiang Ling, China

When I was a leader in a church in 2019, I met a couple of upper leaders. When they fellowshiped on the truth and addressed issues, they got to the crux of the matter, fellowshiping and dissecting things starting at the surface, then going deep, in an orderly way. I felt like I benefited from listening to it. I thought they had a profound view of things, that they had the reality of the truth. With my limited life experience, I figured with people like that to guide me, I’d definitely make fast progress and learn more of the truth, and my salvation would be guaranteed. After that, whatever issues or difficulties I encountered in my work, the first thing I did was write to them, asking for help. They were detailed and provided directions in the guidance in their responses, giving solutions for my problems. I looked up to and relied on them even more. Over time, I sought them out for help resolving every issue, large and small, even general affairs. Whenever I was in a negative state, I didn’t focus on reading God’s words and seeking the truth, or fellowship with the sister I was partnered with, but I waited for a gathering with those leaders to resolve it. When they shared fellowship in gatherings, I listened intently and earnestly took notes, afraid that I’d miss something. In gatherings, they often pointed out and dissected our problems, and they’d call us out on the spot if we argued and justified ourselves when being dealt with. Sometimes when I showed some corruption that I myself wasn’t aware of, they were able to point out the motives hidden behind that and dissect the nature of my actions. This amplified my feeling that they understood the truth and possessed its reality, so I looked up to and admired them more and more. But after knowing them for a while, I realized that when they were resolving problems, they just pointed out the corrupt disposition we’d shown, but hardly ever fellowshiped on the corruption they showed or their actual experiences. Mostly they just talked about their own positive entry, as if they didn’t have any corruption and really could practice the truth. I had a vague sense that they seemed focused entirely on work and lacked any life entry, but then I thought that they were able to see others’ issues and guide our work, so wasn’t that a kind of life entry and reality? So, I kept on admiring, adulating them, and I even emulated their workstyle. When I saw issues in brothers’ and sisters’ duties, or a corrupt disposition that they revealed, just like those leaders, I relentlessly exposed and dealt with them. As a result, some of them sunk into negativity and became afraid of me; they were constrained by me. I admired them too much, so when I faced issues I didn’t lean on God and seek the truth, but sought them out to fix things. Gradually, I felt like my thinking was getting increasingly muddied and I felt foggier about things. With brothers’ and sisters’ states and issues in work, I just couldn’t make heads or tails of things. I didn’t know what to do about problems I’d been able to resolve before. I couldn’t feel the Holy Spirit’s work, and I was becoming increasingly bumbling, but I still didn’t reflect on myself.

One day in April, I got the unexpected news that those two leaders had admitted fault and resigned, that they’d been exposed as false leaders, people who didn’t seek the truth. I simply couldn’t believe it was true. For a few days, I kept wondering how they could have admitted fault and resigned. They knew so much and were capable in work. They were revealed as people who didn’t seek the truth and I didn’t match up to them, so could I do my duty well and be saved by God if I kept practicing my faith that way? I was really upset at the time. I even thought of admitting fault and resigning. But I could see very clearly that I wasn’t in the right state. I asked myself if my faith was in God, or in people. Why would the resignation of a couple of upper leaders have such a big impact on me, even to the point that I felt I had no hope of being saved by God? I realized there was a place in my heart for humans, which offended God’s disposition. Feeling scared, I quickly said a prayer, asking God to guide me to know my own corruption. The next day, I read this in God’s words: “It would be best for those people who claim to follow God to open their eyes and take a good look to see exactly who they believe in: Is it really God that you believe in, or Satan? If you know that what you believe in is not God, but your own idols, then it would be best if you did not claim to be a believer. If you really do not know who you believe in, then, again, it would be best if you did not claim to be a believer. To say so would be blasphemy! No one is forcing you to believe in God. Do not say you believe in Me; I have had enough of such talk, and do not wish to hear it again, because what you believe in are the idols in your hearts and the local bullies among you” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. A Warning to Those Who Do Not Practice the Truth). Reading God’s words was stirring for me, especially the part, “to open their eyes and take a good look to see exactly who they believe in.” That felt really poignant for me—I felt God was calling me out. Thinking back on all of my interactions with those leaders, seeing they were clear and systematic in how they resolved things and organized in their speech, I felt they knew the truth and had the reality of the truth, and if I fellowshiped with them more I’d grow more quickly in life and my salvation would be guaranteed. So whatever issues or difficulties I encountered, instead of leaning on God and seeking the truth for resolution, I’d always seek them out and lean on them, and do whatever they said. In my heart, they’d already become my idols, my pillars. Now that they’d admitted fault and resigned, I felt directionless, without a path in my own duty. Then I finally realized that all along I’d been leaning on and looking to human beings, not to God. On the outside, I had faith in God and was doing a duty, and I mouthed prayers to God every day, but there simply wasn’t any place for God in my heart. I was always seeking people and listening to them when I faced issues. I clearly believed in people, but still said I believed in God. I was cheating God, blaspheming Him! I thought of these words from God: “People who believe in God should obey God and worship Him. Do not exalt or look up to any person; do not put God first, the people you look up to second, and yourself third. No person should hold a place in your heart, and you should not consider people—particularly those you venerate—to be on a par with God or to be His equal. This is intolerable to God” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. The Ten Administrative Decrees That Must Be Obeyed by God’s Chosen People in the Age of Kingdom). I really felt that God’s righteous disposition cannot be offended. God tells us clearly that in our faith we have to worship God and revere Him as great. We should lean on God and look up to God, not look up to people. He absolutely will not allow anyone to adulate and follow a person under the guise of faith in Him. That is something offensive to God’s disposition, that He won’t tolerate. For a while, I prayed to God a lot, and reflected on why I’d adored those two leaders so much. I read some of God’s words that helped me understand this issue a bit. Almighty God says, “What you admire is not the humility of Christ, but those false shepherds of prominent standing. You do not adore the loveliness or wisdom of Christ, but those libertines who wallow in the filth of the world. You laugh at the pain of Christ who has no place to lay His head, but you admire those corpses that hunt for offerings and live in debauchery. You are not willing to suffer alongside Christ, but you gladly throw yourself into the arms of those reckless antichrists, though they only supply you with flesh, words, and control. Even now, your heart still turns toward them, toward their reputation, toward their status, toward their influence. And yet you continue to hold an attitude whereby you find the work of Christ hard to swallow and you are unwilling to accept it. This is why I say that you lack the faith to acknowledge Christ. The reason you have followed Him to this day is only because you had no other option. A series of lofty images are forever towering in your heart; you cannot forget their every word and deed, nor their influential words and hands. They are, in your heart, forever supreme and forever heroes. But this is not so for the Christ of today. He is forever insignificant in your heart, and forever undeserving of reverence. For He is far too ordinary, has far too little influence, and is far from lofty” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Are You a True Believer in God?). “No matter the level of a leader or worker, if you worship them for understanding a bit of the truth and for having a few gifts, and believe that they possess the reality of the truth, and can help you, and if you venerate and depend on them in all things, and try to attain salvation through this, then this is foolish and ignorant of you, and in the end, it will all come to nothing, because the starting point is inherently wrong. No matter how many truths someone understands, no one can stand in the stead of Christ, and no matter how gifted they are, this does not mean they possess the truth—and so those who worship, venerate, and follow people will ultimately all be cast out, they will all be condemned. When people believe in God, they can only venerate and follow God. Regardless of their rank among the leadership, leaders and workers are still common people. If you see them as your immediate superiors, if you feel that they are superior to you, that they are more competent than you, and that they should lead you, that they are in all ways a cut above anyone else, then that is wrong—it is your delusion. And what are the consequences that this delusion leads to? This will lead you unconsciously to measure your leaders against requirements that do not conform with reality, and to be unable to treat correctly the problems and deficiencies they have; at the same time, without your knowing it, you will also be profoundly drawn to their flair, gifts and talents, such that before you know it, you are worshiping them, and they have become your Gods. That path, from the moment they start to become your role model, the object of your worship, to the moment that you become one of their followers, is one that will lead you unconsciously away from God. And even as you gradually move away from God, you will still believe that you are following God, that you are in the house of God, that you are in the presence of God. But actually, you have been drawn away by minions of Satan, by antichrists, and you won’t even sense it—which is a very dangerous state of affairs. To solve this problem requires, on the one hand, being able to discern the nature and essence of the antichrists, being able to see through to the ugly face of the antichrists’ hatred of the truth and opposition to God; so, too, does it require being familiar with the antichrists’ commonly used techniques of deluding and ensnaring people, as well as the way they do things. On the other hand, you must pursue the knowledge of God’s disposition and essence, it must be clear to you that only Christ is the truth, the way, and the life, and that worshiping any person shall bring upon you catastrophe and misfortune. You must trust that only Christ can save people, and must follow and obey Christ with absolute faith. Only this is the correct path of human existence. Some might say: ‘Well, I do have reasons for worshiping the leaders that I do—in my heart, I naturally worship anyone who is talented, I worship any leader that is in line with my notions.’ Why do you insist on worshiping man though you believe in God? When all is said and done, who is it who will save you? Who is it who truly loves you and protects you—can you truly not see? If you believe in God and follow God, you should listen to His word, and if someone speaks and acts correctly, and it accords with the principles of the truth, is obeying the truth not okay? Why are you so base? Why do you insist on finding someone whom you worship to follow? Why do you like to be Satan’s slave? Why not be a servant of the truth instead? This shows whether a person has sense and dignity” (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Six). When I read these passages I felt I was a slave of Satan, like God described. I liked worshiping and following people. I adored those with status, with gifts, who were well-spoken. Seeing those upper leaders get to the heart of matters when fellowshiping on the truth and resolving issues, plus seeing their fellowship was clear and well-organized, I was drawn in by their gifts and their work capabilities. I felt like they understood the truth and had the reality of the truth, so I blindly adored and relied on them. I thought with them leading me, I could learn the truth and do my job well, that I’d grow quickly in life and I’d have hope of being saved, and without their help and guidance, my hope of salvation would be minuscule. I was so confused, so blind! God is the source of the truth. Only God can provide humans with the truth, resolve all our problems and difficulties, and save us from Satan’s forces. No matter how high someone’s status is, what gifts or abilities they have, they’re still someone corrupted by Satan and we can’t lean on or worship them. Even as a believer, God had no place in my heart. Facing problems, I never relied on God or sought the truth, but waited for those people to come fix things. Wasn’t that foolish? Those leaders had insight into some problems and could explain their understanding, but this was all what they’d learned from God’s words. Also, no matter how gifted or eloquent they were, they were just corrupt human beings and didn’t possess the truth at all. They also had to accept God’s judgment and chastisement, and needed God’s salvation. But I worshiped and looked up to them. I even wanted to rely on them in my path of faith toward salvation. I truly was an idiot. Seeing this was scary for me. I never thought I’d stop seeking the truth, that I’d blindly worship people, that I’d put someone on a pedestal in my heart higher than God. I’d already distanced myself from God and betrayed Him—I was on an anti-God path! This thought filled me with guilt and regret, and I wanted to repent to God.

Later I learned the reasons for those two upper leaders’ resignation. One of them was pursuing name and status, and always wanted to show off and be admired in her work. When there were no results in her work, she got depressed and slacked off. The brothers and sisters tried to fellowship and help her many times, but she didn’t change. Ultimately, she couldn’t get any real work done, so she quit. The other one faced roadblocks from her family and complained about the difficulty of believing in God, so she gave up her duty and went back home to live with her family. I was shocked to hear that. They generally talked big in their fellowship in gatherings and were articulate in solving others’ problems, so how could they waver when they themselves faced similar issues? Why couldn’t they carry out the truth? Before I thought they could put the truth into practice, that they had the reality of the truth, but then I finally saw that they didn’t have the reality of the truth at all. They grumbled and discarded their duties when something compromised their interests. They didn’t pursue the truth at all. That lofty image I had of them in my heart came crashing down in an instant.

Later, I read some of God’s words about this issue. Almighty God says, “Holding up God’s words and being able to explain them unabashedly does not mean you are in possession of reality; things are not as simple as you imagine. Whether you are in possession of reality is not based on what you say; rather, it is based on what you live out. Only when God’s words become your life and your natural expression can you be said to have reality, and only then can you be counted as having gained true understanding and actual stature. You must be able to withstand examination over long periods of time, and you must be able to live out the likeness that is required by God. This must not be mere posturing; it must flow from you naturally. Only then will you truly possess reality, and only then will you have gained life. … No matter how ferocious the wind and waves, if you can remain standing without allowing a shred of doubt to enter your mind, and can stand firm and remain free from denial, even when there is no one else left, then you will be counted as having true understanding and genuinely in possession of reality” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Putting the Truth Into Practice Is Possessing Reality). “The good soldiers of the kingdom are not trained to be a group of people who can only talk about reality or boast; rather, they are trained to live out God’s words at all times, to remain unyielding no matter what setbacks they face, and to live constantly in accordance with God’s words and not to return to the world. This is the reality of which God speaks; this is God’s requirement of man. Thus, do not regard the reality spoken of by God as being overly simple. Mere enlightenment from the Holy Spirit does not equal the possession of reality. Such is not the stature of man—it is the grace of God, to which man contributes nothing. Each person must endure Peter’s sufferings, and, even more, possess Peter’s glory, which they live out after they have gained the work of God. Only this can be called reality” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Only Putting the Truth Into Practice Is Possessing Reality). “Whether the knowledge you profess accords with the truth largely depends on whether you have practical experience of it. Where there is truth in your experience, your knowledge will be practical and valuable. Through your experience, you can also gain discernment and insight, deepen your knowledge, and increase your wisdom and common sense about how you should conduct yourself. The knowledge expressed by people who do not possess the truth is doctrine, no matter how lofty it may be. This type of person may well be very intelligent when it comes to matters of the flesh but cannot make distinctions when it comes to spiritual matters. This is because such people have no experience at all of spiritual affairs. These are people who are not enlightened in spiritual affairs and do not understand spiritual matters. Whatever sort of knowledge you express, as long as it is your being, then it is your personal experience, your real knowledge. What people who speak only of doctrine—those being people who possess neither the truth nor reality—discuss can also be called their being, because they have arrived at their doctrine only through deep contemplation and it is the result of their deep rumination. Yet it is only doctrine, nothing more than imagination!” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God’s Work and Man’s Work).

Reading God’s words was an awakening for me. I adored those two leaders so much because I didn’t understand what was doctrine and what was reality. Seeing how high-sounding their fellowship in gatherings was, and that they could expose and dissect other people’s corruption, I thought they had the reality of the truth. But then I learned from these passages that fellowshiping an understanding of God’s words and dissecting some issues isn’t possessing the reality of the truth. Having reality is about people reading God’s words, then accepting them and putting them into practice, being able to submit to God no matter what trials they face, and having testimony from practicing the truth. Those who really have reality truly understand their own corrupt nature, and have personal experience of God’s words. They can use their practical experiences to guide and help brothers and sisters to enter into the reality of God’s words. Those with the reality of the truth do things in a principled way and do their duty loyally. No matter what situation they face, they can uphold the church’s work and do their own duty. Those two leaders were usually really articulate in their fellowship and seemed to be able to resolve other people’s problems. But in the face of real issues, they gave up their duties to protect their own interests. I saw they’d only been sharing doctrine, that it wasn’t practical, and they crumbled with the first dose of reality. That proved they didn’t pursue the truth, that they didn’t have the reality of the truth at all. Also, when they were addressing other people’s problems, they compared those issues to what God’s words say to help them with their understanding, but hardly ever talked about their own corruption and shortcomings, or dissected their own flawed motives. I rarely heard them talk about their experiences of seeking and practicing the truth. Most of the time they got on their high horse, just dissecting and condemning others, as if they weren’t corrupt people, as if they didn’t have corrupt dispositions. Some brothers and sisters were brought to tears by their criticism and lived in negativity and weakness, afraid to see them, and feeling constrained by them. Then I finally saw with clarity that those two leaders weren’t remotely able to resolve problems with the truth. They just used empty doctrine, and relied on their brains and work experience. They couldn’t resolve our issues in life entry at all. Before I had no discernment, but I just worshiped and looked up to them, and even imitated their workstyle. I was so blind!

When I encountered difficulties in my work after that, I made sure to lean on God, look to Him, and seek principles of the truth. For a while, there was some work I didn’t know how to get done and there were some issues I didn’t know how to address. I prayed and leaned on God a lot, and I sought and fellowshiped with my brothers and sisters. Some of those issues were resolved that way. I also gained an understanding of some principles of the truth and made some progress in my work. Over time, I had more confidence in my duty and progressed in my life entry. I felt really fulfilled. At this point, I viscerally felt that relying on God in my duty was the only way to have a way forward. If I wanted to do my duty well and gain the truth, I really couldn’t stray from God’s guidance.

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