What Comes of Shielding a False Leader
By Li Yang, China
In late October 2020, I was dismissed from my role as a leader for failing to do practical work and I went back to my local church. There were some safety issues at my home, so I was temporarily unable to attend gatherings. I was feeling really negative and weak. A sister named Li Yan who lived in my village was a leader in another church. Though I wasn’t a member of the church she oversaw, she would ask after my state whenever we met and readto help me. I was really grateful to her for not looking down on me for being dismissed as a false leader and even helping me out. I thought: “If she has any problems in the future, I will help her as best I can.”
A few months later, I took over cleansing work in the church and worked with Li Yan a lot. I noticed that she was often late for gatherings due to personal matters and during gatherings she just went through the motions and rarely fellowshiped God’s words. When brothers and sisters couldn’t discern nonbelievers, antichrists or evildoers, she didn’t fellowship with them on the principles of the truth. At the time, I heard from a church deacon that she’d often get into spats with her partner over the smallest issues, which meant gatherings couldn’t go ahead normally. Hearing this made me pretty angry. As a leader, Li Yan had not only failed to do practical work, but was also disrupting church life. This would delay the others’ life entry and the church’s work. I sought her out to fellowship with her and to point out she wasn’t doing practical work. I also warned her that if she continued on like this, she’d become a false leader. But she didn’t seem to care at all, and said: “Fine then, I’m a false leader. Since I’m not fellowshiping the truth with them, why don’t you?” After that, I noticed that a few church members were spreading negativity and disrupting church life a lot. I asked Li Yan to get a sense of everyone’s assessment of them to see if they were nonbelievers and should be cleared out. But she made an excuse, saying she was busy, and kept putting it off, which allowed those church members to continue disrupting church life. Seeing how careless of an attitude she had toward church work, I pointed out her problems to her again, but she still argued back. I realized that Li Yan continually failed to do practical work, didn’t accept feedback, and had already delayed the church’s work. Judging by principles, I thought she was very likely a false leader and so I wanted to report her situation to the upper leader. But then I thought, “She helped me before when I was feeling negative and treated me so well. If she finds out that I had reported her to the upper leader, will she become biased against me? If that leads to her being dismissed, will she say I lacked a conscience? Perhaps if I don’t report her now and just fellowship a bit more, she’ll change.” After that, I just discussed the significance of the church’s cleansing work with her as well as how she should approach her duty. But after a period of time, Li Yan still wasn’t doing practical work, and she still hadn’t gotten assessments of those church members. I also heard that Li Yan was irresponsible in her work and had failed to oversee resource management in the church, which led to quite a few items being damaged, causing the church serious financial damage. After that, she didn’t self-reflect and even tried to shift the blame, saying others hadn’t stored the items properly. I saw that she didn’t do any practical work. She was careless in her attitude toward church projects, and didn’t accept criticism. When there were obstructions to the church’s work and its property was damaged, she didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty. Wasn’t that the sign of a false leader? But I didn’t report her issues in a timely manner. When I realized this, I felt quite guilty. I saw a passage of God’s words. “All of you say you are considerate of God’s burden and will defend the testimony of the church, but who among you has really been considerate of God’s burden? Ask yourself: Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him? Can you stand up and speak for Me? Can you steadfastly put the truth into practice? Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds? Would you be able to set your emotions aside and expose Satan for the sake of My truth? Can you allow My intentions to be fulfilled in you? Have you offered up your heart in the most crucial of moments? Are you someone who does My will? Ask yourself these questions, and think about them often” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. Utterances of Christ in the Beginning, Chapter 13). I felt like God’s words were calling me to account, especially when I saw the parts that say: “Are you someone who has shown consideration for His burden? Can you practice righteousness for Him?” “Are you bold enough to fight against all of Satan’s deeds?” I felt particularly ashamed and guilty. God hopes that we can heed His will and quickly take a stand to expose and stop people who disrupt church work to protect the church’s interests. But as for me, I had known Li Yan for quite some time and had seen how she didn’t do practical work and didn’t accept criticism, and I knew very well that if she wasn’t dismissed, the church’s work and the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry would both be damaged. But I thought about how she’d helped me, and worried that she’d hate me once she found out I’d reported her and say I lacked a conscience. So to protect our relationship, I didn’t want to report her problems, even when I clearly saw her failing to do practical work, causing several nonbelievers to not be cleared out of the church promptly and continue disrupting church life. I was so selfish and despicable! By violating the principles of the truth, abetting and shielding a false leader, and allowing her to disrupt church life, hadn’t I become a lackey to this false leader and shared in her evil doings? Realizing this, I hated myself for not reporting Li Yan in time and decided to discuss her issues with the leader right away.
After that, the upper leader had me collect brothers’ and sisters’ assessments of Li Yan and then it could be decided based on her consistent performance if she should be dismissed. If she was determined to be a false leader, I was to go along with her and dismiss Li Yan. I felt some hesitation when the upper leader said that, thinking: “Li Yan helped me a lot after I was dismissed before. If I expose her and help the others discern her, she will say I lack a conscience.” I felt so torn and didn’t want to expose her. I realized my state was wrong, so I prayed to God, seeking to resolve my misgivings. I came across this passage of God’s words: “Who is Satan, who are demons, and who are God’s enemies if not resisters who do not believe in God? Are they not those people who are disobedient to God? Are they not those who claim to have faith, yet who lack truth? Are they not those who merely seek to obtain blessings while being unable to bear witness for God? You still mingle with those demons today and bear conscience and love toward them, but in this case are you not extending good intentions toward Satan? Are you not in league with demons? If people these days are still unable to distinguish between good and evil, and continue to blindly be loving and merciful without any intention of seeking God’s will or being able in any way to harbor God’s intentions as their own, then their endings will be all the more wretched. Anyone who does not believe in the God in the flesh is an enemy of God. If you can bear conscience and love toward an enemy, do you not lack a sense of righteousness? If you are compatible with those which I detest and with which I disagree, and still bear love or personal feelings toward them, then are you not disobedient? Are you not intentionally resisting God? Does such a person possess truth? If people bear conscience toward enemies, love for demons, and mercy for Satan, then are they not intentionally disrupting God’s work?” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. God and Man Will Enter Into Rest Together). God’s words really hit home with me. The passage clearly stated that people that seek the truth and uphold the church’s work should be treated with love, while those that despise the truth and disrupt the church’s work should be loathed and abandoned. But even though I clearly saw that Li Yan wasn’t doing practical work and was disrupting the church’s work, I still showed her kindness and didn’t report her right away. Then, when it was time to expose her and help the others gain discernment and learn lessons, I was beset by worries, and concerned that she would hate me and say I was an ungrateful traitor. So I betrayed my conscience, shielding and harboring her. I truly lacked humanity. Where was my loyalty to God? Hadn’t I become one of Satan’s lackeys? Even while enjoying so much of God’s sustenance, I still betrayed Him. I was fine with letting the church’s work and my brothers’ and sisters’ life entry suffer, as long as my personal interests were safeguarded. I was so lacking in conscience and humanity! If I continued to fail to repent and practice the truth, God would eventually get fed up with me and cast me out.
After that, I read a couple more passages of God’s words. “If God wants to save you, no matter whose services He uses to accomplish it, you should first thank God and accept it from God. You should not direct your gratitude solely toward people, to say nothing of offering up your life to someone in gratitude. This is a grave mistake. The crucial thing is that your heart is grateful to God, and you accept it from Him” (The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. What It Is to Pursue the Truth (7)). “Helping someone who happens to need it, at an appropriate time and place, is a very normal phenomenon. It is also the responsibility of every member of the human race. This is simply a sort of responsibility and obligation. God gave people this instinct when He created them. … Helping people and being good to them is near effortless for humans, it is a part of human instinct, and something which people are completely capable of accomplishing. There is no need to rank it as highly as grace. However, many people equate this with grace, and are always talking about it and constantly repaying it, thinking that if they don’t, they have no conscience. They look down on themselves and despise themselves, even worrying they will be reprimanded by society. Is it necessary to worry about these things? (No.) There are many people who cannot see past this, and are constantly constrained by this issue. This is what it is to not understand the principles of truth” (The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. What It Is to Pursue the Truth (7)). Yes. God is the Lord of creation; He reigns supreme and orchestrates all things. When I was at my weakest and most negative point, it might have seemed like Li Yan was treating me well with her help and fellowship, but, in reality, this was all God’s rule and arrangements, not her care for me. I should have taken that as coming from God and thanked Him, instead of attributing it to her. Not to mention, Li Yan was a church leader, so it was actually her duty to support brothers and sisters and resolve any issues in their life entry. When Li Yan supported me and fellowshiped God’s words with me, she was just fulfilling her duty. Also, treating brothers and sisters with love, helping and supporting each other is one of God’s demands of His chosen people. I should have taken Li Yan’s support as coming from God and shown gratitude to Him. Instead, I mistakenly took it as her care for me and thought she was really a good person. I repeatedly shielded her because of my personal affection. I clearly knew that she was a false leader, but I didn’t stand up to report and expose her. I was just so muddle-headed! I should have heeded God’s will, held to the principles, and exposed the false leader to safeguard the church’s work. Only that would be a show of conscience and humanity. If Li Yan were someone who accepted the truth, when she was dealt with and exposed, she would reflect and come to know herself, see her own corruption and deficiencies, repent and achieve transformation. This would also benefit her. If she wasn’t someone who accepted the truth, and when dealt with, she didn’t repent, this would expose the fact that she didn’t seek the truth and should be dismissed. This would be helpful both to the church’s work and to others’ life entry. I had an absurd understanding of things: I always believed that dealing with and exposing people was humiliating and hurting them. I was treating something very positive as negative. As a result, I was continually constrained by this mistaken belief and didn’t dare expose Li Yan’s issues. I just didn’t understand the truth and was truly pathetic. Having realized all that, I felt a sense of relief and stopped avoiding my responsibility. Later on, after evaluating Li Yan’s overall performance, it was found that she was a false leader, and she was dismissed. She didn’t self-reflect or come to know herself at all, and even complained that she was wronged. She argued that she’d been a leader for years, had given up her chance to make money out in the world, and endured countless hardships, so she felt the church was treating her unfairly. After that, she became obsessed with wealth, took a job to make money and stopped regularly attending gatherings. After her dismissal, the church held an election to select a new leader, the nonbelievers were cleared out, church life no longer suffered disruptions, and the church’s various projects could proceed smoothly. Seeing all this, I felt much more at ease. I was so happy that I was able to seek the truth in this situation, identify my issues in time and fulfill my duty.
Later on, when I ran into Li Yan, she blew up on me, saying: “I don’t want to see your face! Now everyone’s saying I’m a false leader, and it was you who told them that. I hate you!” It made me pretty upset to hear her say that, but I knew that everything I had reported to the upper leader was factual. She was a false leader and should be exposed and reported. This was completely in keeping with God’s will. But why did it hurt so much to hear her say she hated me? Later on, I read a passage of God’s words that gave me an understanding of the root of the problem. God’s words say, “Although people may eat and drink of God’s words every day and pray-read and contemplate God’s words often, the basic views, principles, and methods underlying how they view people and things, how they conduct themselves, and how they handle matters are still in accordance with traditional culture. Therefore, the effect traditional culture has on a person, is to make them still be subject to its manipulation, orchestrations, and control in their daily life. It is like a shadow that a person cannot shake off and cannot be free of. Why is this? Because people cannot uncover, dissect, or expose the various ideas and views that traditional culture and Satan have instilled deep within man’s mind; they cannot recognize, see through, rebel against, or abandon these things; they cannot view people and things, conduct themselves, or handle matters in the way God tells people to, or in the way He teaches and elucidates. In what sort of predicament do the majority of people still live because of this? It is one where there is a desire deep in their hearts to view people and things, conduct themselves, and handle matters according to God’s words, to not turn their backs on God’s will, or go against the truth. Yet unresistingly and in spite of themselves, they still interact with people, conduct themselves, and handle matters according to the methods Satan teaches. Even if people have a heart which thirsts for the truth, want to have a tremendous desire for God, want to view people and things, conduct themselves, and handle matters according to God’s words, and not go against the principles of truth, things always end up contrary to their wishes. Even after doubling down on their efforts, the end result is still not as they desire. No matter how people struggle, no matter how much effort they put in, no matter how much they resolve and desire to attain a love for positive things, in the end, the truth they are able to practice and the principles of truth they are able to hold to in real life are few and far between. This is the most frustrating thing deep in people’s hearts. What on earth is the reason for this? One part of the reason is none other than that the various ideas and views that traditional culture teaches people still dominate their hearts, control their words, actions, ideas, and the methods and ways in which people conduct themselves and handle matters. Thus, recognizing traditional culture, dissecting and exposing traditional culture, discerning and seeing through it, and ultimately abandoning it forever requires going through a process. This is very important; it is not something you can take or leave because traditional culture already dominates people’s hearts deep inside, and even dominates people entirely, making it so that they cannot help themselves from turning their backs on the truth in their lives, in how they conduct themselves, and how they handle matters; so that they cannot help themselves from still being controlled and influenced by traditional culture, right up until today” (The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. Why Must We Pursue Truth?). After pondering over God’s words I realized that I was living based upon traditional cultural values and satanic philosophies like “Repay a drop of kindness with a fountain of reward.” I took these ideas as my guiding principles. I believed that I should do my best to protect and repay those that were kind and had done nice things for me regardless of whether they were good or bad people or acted according to the principles of the truth. Even if they did evil and disrupted the church’s work, I should cover for them, otherwise I would be lacking in conscience and humanity. It was because I was constrained by these satanic philosophies that, despite clearly seeing that Li Yan didn’t do practical work and was a false leader, I delayed exposing and reporting her because she had helped me before. I always wanted to give her another chance and be lenient, to be kind and loving to her. I didn’t consider whether the church’s work and the brothers’ and sisters’ life entry had been harmed. I was indulging a false leader’s evil-doing and standing on Satan’s side, rebelling against and resisting God. I saw that, in essence, these traditional values are all lies and fallacies used by Satan to deceive and corrupt people. They are not principles that we should live by. Living by such ideas would only make me increasingly ridiculous and absurd. My thoughts would become more and more muddled, unable to discern good from evil and I’d only ever violate the truth and resist God.
I saw another passage of God’s words that says: “Sometimes the function of conscience is constrained and swayed by emotions, and therefore our decisions conflict with the principles of the truth. As such, we can see one fact clearly: that the function of conscience is inferior to the standards of the truth, and that sometimes acting on your conscience can be in violation of the truth. If you believe in God, but do not live according to the truth, and instead act according to your conscience, can you ultimately do evil and resist God? Some things truly are evil deeds. You absolutely cannot say that acting on your conscience is never a mistake. This shows that if you want to satisfy God and comply with His will, just acting on your conscience alone will never be enough. You must act according to the truth to meet God’s demands” (The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth. What It Is to Pursue the Truth (2)). Yes. We should all have a conscience, but that’s not the truth and cannot replace it. If we only act and behave according to our conscience instead following the truth, we’ll be likely to go against the truth and resist God. God asks that we love what He loves and hate what He hates. This is the principle we should apply with others. If a brother or sister is a truth-seeker, then no matter if they’ve shown me kindness, when they encounter problems, I ought to help them with love. If they commit evil acts or if they’re a false leader, evildoer or antichrist, then even if they’ve been gracious toward me, I should treat them according to the principles and expose and report them. So when Li Yan disrupted church work and didn’t accept the truth at all, failing to repent and transform no matter how we fellowshiped with and helped her, I shouldn’t shield her in keeping with my so-called “conscience,” but rather, should expose and report her according to the principles. By not doing that, I was just harming brothers and sisters and further damaging the church’s work. Realizing this was enlightening, and I felt I had a path of practice and principles to use in my treatment of others. Later on, Li Yan was so upset about being dismissed that not only did she start pursuing wealth and skipping gatherings, she even spread negativity among the others, continuing her disruption, and refused to accept fellowship and criticism many times. She should be cleared out according to principle. That time I didn’t try to shield her again, instead helping the leaders collect the brothers’ and sisters’ evaluations of her. With the approval of over 80% of brothers and sisters, Li Yan was removed from the church.
Only after experiencing all that did I realize that living by Satan’s philosophy only obstructs the practice of truth and can even interrupt the church’s work. Only those that go by God’s words in how they behave and view things truly have humanity and are able to protect the church and satisfy God’s will. God’s words rectified my mistaken beliefs and helped me understand the principles of how to treat others.