The Wages of Disguise and Concealment
By Lilieth, Honduras
In October of 2018, I accepted the work ofin the last days. Six months later, I served as a watering deacon in my church. I had many difficulties when I first began this duty, but after prayer and seeking with my brothers and sisters, I gradually mastered some principles and achieved some results in my duty. I also practiced writing experience testimonials, I often reflect on myself, and I felt very fulfilled every day.
One day in January of this year, my leader told me, “You’ve made some progress in life entry, so we chose you to be a preacher. Would you like to do it?” I was delighted to hear it, so I agreed and said, “I’ll do my best.” The leader said, “The experience testimonials you wrote are very good. Only brothers and sisters who bear a burden in their life entry can serve as preachers. Then they can truly resolve their brothers’ and sisters’ problems and difficulties.” Hearing this made me proud, especially when I heard I was asked to perform this duty because I had some life entry. I felt I could do this duty well. After that, the leader made me responsible for the work of several churches and taught me many principles. The scope of work was larger, and there were also many tasks I was responsible for, so I was stressed and a little worried I wouldn’t be able to do it. I saw some brothers and sisters who did the same duty as me were familiar with the work, but I was new to this duty and didn’t know how to do it. I wanted to express my difficulties, but then I thought of the compliments from my leader. If she knew I didn’t understand how to do the work of these churches, what would she think of me? Would she think I couldn’t do it, and that choosing me was a mistake? Besides, now, I was a preacher. If I wasn’t even familiar with the work, how could I help and support the church leaders? Thinking of this, I felt like my throat was sealed shut. I was too embarrassed to speak honestly.
Once, our superior leader fellowshiped with us about our work, and I saw that Sister Silvia and Brother Ricardo were very active in answering questions from the leader, and also knew how to do each aspect of the work. The leader asked me, “Do you have any difficulties?” I thought, “We all do the same duty. If I say yes, what will the leader think of me? Will she think I have no ability to work?” I lied and said, “None at all.” Later, each time the leader met with us, I rarely spoke, and when I did, I always first thought of how to answer to stop others from knowing there were many things I didn’t understand, because I feared they would look down on me. In this way, I kept concealing and disguising myself, I felt very restrained, and I became more and more passive in my duty. I even wanted to leave the group and stop going to meetings. But even so, I didn’t want to open up about my state to anyone. I only wanted to show my good side to others. One day, I made an appointment with two church leaders to learn about the state of work at the church. When I met them, one of them said enthusiastically, “It’s great to have you in charge of our work! I like going to meeting with you, and I admire you every time I hear your fellowship. I hope I can be like you in the future.” The other leader said, “We feel good doing our duty with you. Your fellowship always brings us light.” At the time, I wanted to tell them not to think so highly of me, because I have corruption, I have difficulties in my duty, and I’ll be negative under pressure. But then I thought, “If I tell them the truth, will they still think so highly of me in the future? Will they still ask me if they have questions?” I struggled inside, and in the end, I didn’t tell the truth.
Another time, I had a meeting with several church deacons. They said they couldn’t do some jobs and were having difficulties. I comforted them, “Don’t worry, we’ve all just started our duties. We’ll understand things as we learn.” On the surface, there was nothing wrong with what I said. But actually, I couldn’t do the work either. I was very worried they would see my real stature, so I didn’t dare to speak honestly, and I just gave them a little encouragement that didn’t solve their problems at all. Because I continued to wrap myself up and disguise myself, I couldn’t feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I was very weak, and I was very tired every day. I often thought, “Why can’t I simply do church work like everyone else?” I knew that I should seek about my difficulties with my leader, but I worried about what the leader would think of me if I said it. I thought, “I was given this duty because the leader said I had life entry, so she must think I am someone with good caliber who pursues the truth. If she knows I have so many things I don’t understand and can’t do church work, certainly she will think it was a mistake to choose me as a preacher.” Thinking of this, I was even more afraid to speak. My state grew worse and worse, and I lived in darkness and suffering. I prayed to God, “Almighty God, I don’t know how to experience this environment. I ask You to lead and guide me.”
One day, at a meeting, our superior leader asked us about our experience during this period. The others opened up about their corruption and shortcomings in their duties, and I found the courage to talk about my own state. The leader used her experience to help me, and said, “As leaders and workers, you don’t need to understand everything to do your duty well. This idea is wrong. We are just ordinary people, so it’s normal that you don’t understand and can’t see through some things. But if we want to be a know-it-all and can’t deal with our own deficiencies correctly and to maintain our status and image, we wear masks to disguise ourselves and deceive others and never let others see our true stature, living that way is painful.” Then, the leader sent me two passages of God’s word. “How to be someone who is ordinary and normal? How can people, as God says, assume the proper place of a created being—how can they not try to be superhuman, or some great figure? … Firstly, don’t get caught up in your own title. Don’t say, ‘I am the leader, I am the head of the team, I am the supervisor, no one knows this business better than me, no one understands the skills more than me.’ Don’t get caught up in all this. Because as soon as you do, it will be as if your hands and feet are bound, and what you say and do will be affected. You must first learn how to keep to the place that is right for you. First lower yourself from the position as some great figure that you imagine yourself to have, and stand in the place of an ordinary person; such an attitude is more normal. You must also learn to say, ‘I don’t know how to do this, and I don’t understand that, either—I’m going to have to do some research. I’ve never experienced this, so I don’t know what to do.’ If you say what’s in your heart in this way, your heart will become unhindered, and people will know that you are like them, that there are things you don’t know, too, and areas in which you are ignorant. They will know the real you, and will thus have a normal view of you, and will not feel awkward around you, and as a result, you will not have to worry when you say or do anything, nor will you have to put on an act, nor will there be any great pressure on you. Living like this is free and easy; anyone who finds living exhausting has caused this themselves. Don’t pretend or put up a front; first open up about what you’re thinking in your heart, about your true thoughts, so that everyone is aware of them and understands them. As a result, all the barriers, suspicions, and concerns between you and others will be eliminated. You’re also hobbled by something else, too. You always consider yourself the head of the team, a leader, a worker, or someone with a title: If you say you don’t understand something, or can’t do something, are you not denigrating yourself? When you put aside these fetters in your heart, when you stop thinking of yourself as a leader or a worker, but as an ordinary person, when you stop thinking that you’re better than other people, but the same as everyone else, and when you think that there are some areas in which you are inferior to others—when you fellowship the truth and work-related matters with this attitude, the effect is different, and the vibe is different, too. If, in your heart, you always have misgivings, if you always feel stressed and hobbled, and if you want to rid yourself of these things but can’t, then pray seriously to God, strive toward the truth, work hard on it, put it into practice; before long, there will be an effect. Whatever you do, don’t speak and act from a certain position or using a certain title; first put all this to one side, and put yourself in the place of an ordinary person” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). “If, in your heart, you are clear about what kind of person you are, what your essence is, what your failings and outpourings of corruption are, you should openly fellowship this with other people, so that they can see what your true state is, what your thoughts and opinions are, so that they know what knowledge you have of such things. Whatever you do, don’t pretend or put up a front, don’t hide your own corruption and failings from others, so that no one knows about them; this kind of fake behavior means that there is a hindrance in your heart, and it is also a corrupt disposition, and it can stop people from repenting and changing. You must pray to God, and hold up for reflection and dissection the fake things like other people’s praise for you, the glory they shower you with, and the crowns they bestow on you, you must see the harm these things do to you—and in so doing you will know your own measure, you will attain self-knowledge, and will no longer see yourself as superhuman, or some great figure. Once you have such self-awareness, it becomes easy for you to accept the truth, to acceptand what God asks of man into your heart, to accept the Creator’s salvation of you, to steadfastly be an ordinary person, someone who is down-to-earth, to establish a normal relationship between you—a created being, and God—the Creator. This is precisely what God asks of people, as well as something that is wholly attainable to them” (The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). After reading God’s word, I began to reflect on my state during this time. When I heard the leader say I was a preacher because I had life entry, I became proud and complacent. I felt it was because I pursued the truth and was capable of work that I was selected for such an important job. But when I actually started doing this duty, I finally saw that I didn’t understand much of the work of the church. I had no grasp of some of the principles my leader fellowshiped on, I felt a lot of pressure, so I was often weak and negative. But I didn’t open up about my real state, and I deceived my leader, saying I had no problems, because I feared she would think I wasn’t qualified and would look down on me. When I heard the church leaders and deacons praise me, and even think of me as an example to follow, although I knew I should open up about my corruption and shortcomings, and let them know my true stature so they would stop looking up to and admiring me, I worried that they wouldn’t think highly of me after learning the facts, so I stayed silent. Even when the leaders and deacons asked me some questions that I obviously didn’t know how to solve, I didn’t open up and discuss things with them. I pretended to understand what I didn’t and answered with perfunctory words. Time and again, I disguised myself and gave false impressions, all because I was stuck on the title of “preacher.” I thought as a preacher, my understanding and knowledge should be higher than others, I shouldn’t have shortcomings, and I shouldn’t be negative or weak. I thought this was the only way others would look up to and approve of me. To maintain my status and image, I put on a mask to cover myself up, and I disguised myself as flawless. Even when I felt tormented, negative, and weak, to maintain the title of “preacher” I would rather cry in secret and alone than open my heart and ask for help. This title was too difficult and tiring for me to bear. When the church made me a preacher, it was giving me a chance to practice and allowing me to seek and understand more truth in my duty. But I didn’t follow the right path. I used this chance to pursue fame and fortune. Wasn’t this going against God’s will? God doesn’t want us to be supermen or great people. God wants us to stand in the place of created beings and be common, ordinary people, pursue the truth in a down-to-earth manner, honestly face our own shortcomings, and for problems we don’t understand, open up with our brothers and sisters and seek help. This is the reason we should possess.
Later, I read some experience testimonials written by some brothers and sisters that referenced passages of God’s word that were specific to my state. Almighty God says, “Regardless of the context, no matter what duty they perform, the antichrist will try and give the impression that they aren’t weak, that they are always strong, full of confidence, never negative. They never reveal their real point of view or real attitude toward God. In fact, in the depths of their heart, do they really believe there is nothing they cannot do? Do they genuinely believe that they are without weakness, negativity, or outpourings of corruption? Absolutely not. They are good at putting on an act, adept at hiding things. They like showing people their strong and honorable side; they don’t want them to see the side of them that is weak and true. Their purpose is obvious: It is, quite simply, to keep face, to protect the place they have in people’s hearts. They think that if they open up before others about their own negativity and weakness, if they reveal the side of them that is rebellious and corrupt, this will be grievous damage to their status and reputation—more trouble than it’s worth. So they would rather keep their weakness, rebelliousness, and negativity strictly to themselves. And if a day does come when everyone sees the side of them that is weak and rebellious, when they see that they are corrupt, and have not changed at all, they will still keep putting on an act. They think that if they admit to having a corrupt disposition, to being an ordinary person, someone who is small and insignificant, then they will lose their place in people’s hearts, will lose everyone’s veneration and adoration, and thus will have utterly failed. And so, whatever happens, they will not simply open up to people; whatever happens, they will not give their power and status to anyone else; instead, they try as hard as they can to compete, and will never give up” (“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 Ten)” in Exposing Antichrists). In another passage, God revealed the nature and consequences of people’s pursuit of status. God’s words say, “You are always seeking greatness, nobility, and status; you always seek exaltation. How does God feel when He sees this? He loathes it, and does not want to look upon it. The more you pursue things like greatness, nobility, and being superior to others, distinguished, outstanding, and noteworthy, the more disgusting God finds you. If you do not reflect upon yourself and repent, then God will despise you and forsake you. Be sure not to be someone whom God finds disgusting; be a person that God loves. So, how can one attain God’s love? By receiving the truth obediently, standing in the position of a created being, acting by God’s words with one’s feet on the ground, performing one’s duties properly, trying to be an honest person, and living out the likeness of a true human. This is enough. Be sure not to hold ambition or entertain idle dreams, do not seek fame, gains, and status or to stand out from the crowd. Moreover, do not try to be a person of greatness or superhuman, who is superior among men and makes others worship them. That is the desire of corrupt humanity, and it is the path of Satan; God does not save such people. If people incessantly pursue fame, gains, and status and refuse to repent, then there is no cure for them, and there is only one outcome for them: to be cast out” (“The Proper Fulfillment of Duty Requires Harmonious Cooperation” in The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days). I contemplated God’s word and saw that antichrists are hypocrites. To gain a place in the hearts of others, they always package and whitewash themselves, they never tell the truth, they never let others see their weak side or their true side, and they disguise themselves as people who understand the truth and have no flaws to gain the praise and admiration of others so that everyone follows and worships them. Their nature is especially arrogant and evil. I reflected on my behavior and saw I was the same as an antichrist. The church made me a preacher, but I didn’t receive it as a commission from God or think about how to be down-to-earth, do my duty well, and be pure and honest. Instead, I always pretended to be a know-it-all. I wanted others to look up to me, think I had good caliber, and could solve any problem, so that they’d have a place for me in their hearts, surround me, and worship me. I was arrogant and unreasonable. Wasn’t I just contending with God for position? Everything I thought and did was entirely against God. Especially when I saw God say, “If people incessantly pursue fame, gains, and status and refuse to repent, then there is no cure for them, and there is only one outcome for them: to be cast out.” I knew this was God’s warning to me. If I continued down the path of seeking fame and status, I would surely be rejected by God, and I would ultimately be cast out. I prayed to God to say I wished to repent, didn’t want to lose my chance to be saved, and was willing to pursue being a pure and honest person.
The next day, my superior leader asked me to prepare a meeting document. She mentioned several things to fellowship at the meeting and asked me if I understood. Actually, I wasn’t very clear at the time, but I feared she would say I had poor caliber and couldn’t handle a meeting document, so I lied and said I understood. But when I actually started to do it, I didn’t know how to organize it. I was very nervous, my hands were sweating, I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed to God, “Almighty God, I have been corrupted too deeply by Satan. I am still constrained by reputation and status. I can’t forsake my flesh and be honest. Please lead and guide me in finding a way to practice.”
In God’s word, I read, “Some people are promoted and nurtured by the church, and this is something good, it is a good chance to be trained. It can be said they have been elevated and graced by God. So how, then, should they perform their duty? The first principle they should abide by is to understand the truth. When they do not understand the truth, they must seek the truth, and if they still don’t understand after seeking, they can find someone who does understand the truth to fellowship and seek with, which will make solving the problem faster and more timely. If you focus only on spending more time reading God’s words by yourself, and on spending more time pondering these words, in order to achieve understanding of the truth and solve the problem, this is too slow; as the saying goes, ‘Distant water won’t slake an urgent thirst.’ If, when it comes to the truth, you wish to make quick progress, then you must learn how to work in harmony with others, and to ask more questions, and do more searching. Only then will your life grow quickly, and will you be able to solve problems timely, without any delay in either. Because you have only just been promoted and are still on probation, and do not truly understand the truth or possess the reality of the truth—because you still lack this stature—do not think that your promotion means you possess the reality of the truth; this is not the case. It is merely because you have a sense of burden toward the work and possess the caliber of a leader that you are selected for promotion and nurturing. You should have this sense. If, after being promoted and made use of, you sit in the position of leader or worker and believe that you have the reality of the truth, and that you are someone who pursues the truth—and if, regardless of what problems the brothers and sisters have, you pretend that you understand, and that you are spiritual—then this is a stupid way to be, and it is the same way as the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. You must speak and act truthfully. When you don’t understand, you can ask others or seek answers from and fellowship with the Above—there is nothing shameful about any of this. Even if you don’t ask, the Above will still know your true stature, and will know that the reality of the truth is absent in you. Seeking and fellowshiping are what you ought to be doing; this is the sense that should be found in normal humanity, and the principle that should be adhered to by leaders and workers. It is not something to be embarrassed about” (Identifying False Leaders (5)). After reading God’s words, I understood that the church promoted me as a preacher to give me a chance to practice, and so that I could learn how to do the work. This did not mean I was better than others, higher than others, or that I knew everything. I had just started this duty, and there was much work I couldn’t do and principles I couldn’t grasp. This was entirely normal. Also, that I could write experience testimonials only meant I had some superficial experience and understanding of God’s word, not that I understood the truth or possessed its realities. I have believed in God for a short time, I still don’t understand the truth, and my corrupt dispositions haven’t changed, so I should treat my own shortcomings and deficiencies correctly, and seek and fellowship with my brothers and sisters when I don’t understand things. There is nothing shameful about this. It was shameful that I pretended to understand when I didn’t, which meant many problems weren’t resolved in time, which delayed the work of the church, and I repeatedly lost the chance to seek the truth and lived in negativity and weakness. I was so foolish! I couldn’t go on like this. I had to set my intentions right, open up, seek and fellowship with my brothers and sisters, and perform my duty well.
Afterwards, I asked the leader how to organize the meeting document, and she patiently fellowshiped with me. I found my stride, and soon the document was sorted out. The meeting was also very effective, and I felt relaxed and at ease. Now, in doing my duty, I still encounter many problems and difficulties, but I can pray and rely on God, and I often seek the help of my brothers and sisters. During meetings, I also open up about myself with my brothers and sisters and let them see my corruption and shortcomings. By doing this, I feel very at ease and secure. Thanks be to God!