19. There Is No Special Treatment in the Church
By Liu Xin, Shandong Province
After following God over these years, I came to think of myself as someone who has converted some people through preaching the gospel, who works dawn till dusk for the church, has suffered from giving things up and expending myself and has paid a certain price. So, I felt I was some sort of contributor of the church, and over time I regarded myself as having seniority in the church. I started living off my past gains and flaunting my seniority. I thought: “I left home so many years ago and I’ve always performed my duty in the church. I’m certain that church leaders of all levels regard someone like me with particular respect. Even if there have been some mistakes and omissions in my duty, that’s fine. I won’t be sent back home.” Due to that kind of thinking, I lived in a state of self-satisfaction without any thought of progress. In my duty, I gradually stopped taking up a burden and I did everything half-heartedly. Just so-so was fine, and I didn’t have the same kind of faith in preaching the gospel that I had at first. I was always living within difficulties. Facing that state of mine, even though I felt my heart accused and my conscience felt reproach because I was owing God too much through my perfunctory duty, and I felt that I would be eliminated sooner or later, I still just drifted along with the mentality of hoping to luck out, thinking that if I didn’t achieve good results in my work, at the very most I’d just be transferred to perform another duty.
God is righteous and holy. In the end, because I’d been slipshod in my duty for a long time and my work was all in a mess, I was replaced and sent home by the church for self-reflection. When I heard that this was to happen, I was dumbfounded, and I thought: “I left home and have performed my duty in the church for so many years, and even if my work has not been meritorious, I have at least put in hard work. How can they send me home without any thought to my feelings? How on earth will I face my family? What prospects will I have in the future?” My heart grew extremely chaotic and I became full of misunderstanding and blame toward God. I fell into darkness, struggling in pain.
Amid extreme suffering, I came before God and called out to Him: “Oh God, now I live in darkness, my heart full of misunderstanding and blame toward You. Please have mercy on me and enlighten me to understand Your will, so that I may obey and accept Your judgment and chastisement.” After repeatedly praying like this several times, I was able to quiet my heart. I saw these words of God: “I will have no sense of pity for those of you who suffer for many years and work hard with nothing to show for it. On the contrary, I treat those who have not met My demands with punishment, not rewards, still less any sympathy. Perhaps you imagine that for being a follower for many years you put in hard work no matter what, so in any case you can get a bowl of rice in God’s house for being a service-doer. I would say the majority of you think this way because you have always up to now pursued the principle of how to take advantage of something and not be taken advantage of. So I am telling you now in all seriousness: I do not care how meritorious your hard work is, how impressive your qualifications, how closely you follow Me, how renowned you are, or how improved your attitude; so long as you have not done what I have demanded, you will never be able to win My praise. … for I cannot bring My enemies and people reeking of evil on the model of Satan into My kingdom, into the next age” (“Transgressions Will Take Man to Hell” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Each word of God revealed His righteousness, majesty and wrath, hitting home and stabbing into me like a double-edged sword, and thoroughly shattering my dream of “being able to at least make a living in the church no matter what because of the work I put in, even if it’s not meritorious.” At this time, I had no choice but to self-reflect: Even though I left home and have been fulfilling my duty in other places over these last few years, appearing on the surface to have paid a bit of a price and suffered a little, I hadn’t had any real progress in my entry into life and I hadn’t had any dispositional change at all. I was arrogant, capitalized on my seniority, and trotted out my old achievements. Not only was I not considerate of God’s will, but I acted perfunctorily in dealing with my duty. Particularly during this period, I did not have any burden at all in my gospel work, and even though I didn’t have any results in that aspect of my work, I didn’t think it mattered and didn’t feel that I owed God anything. I even treated gospel work as an encumbrance, thinking that there were many new believers but not so many to water them, and that the more new believers who were converted, the more of a pain it would be when people to water them couldn’t be found. Consequently, I was indifferent in the gospel work, causing it to suffer great losses. As I didn’t pay attention to the work of watering new people, it resulted in some new believers leaving because they had not been watered in time. The church arranged for me to find host families and people who could attend to general affairs, but I always lived within difficulties with the excuse that “there aren’t any suitable people or homes”; I wasn’t willing to carry anything out. Moreover, I bore no burden for my life entry; I was content with my situation at the time and did not seek any progress. I degenerated to a certain degree, became loathed by God, and lost the work of the Holy Spirit, resulting in various aspects of the church’s work becoming a mess. I thought about my behavior: How was this fulfilling my duty? It was simply doing evil! But I actually felt that, even had my work not been meritorious, I had at least put in hard work, and that no matter what, I should at least be able to earn a living in the church. When the church arranged for me to return home to self-reflect, I even felt I had been wronged. I even regarded myself as a contributor of the church, shamelessly making demands of God and flaunting my seniority. I really was too unreasonable, too lacking in sense! This disposition of mine was too detestable and abhorrent to God! The church is different to society in that the truth and God are in power within the church, and God’s righteous disposition has no mercy for anyone. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are, how much suffering you have endured, or how long you have followed Him. If you do not take God’s commission seriously and therefore offend God’s disposition, all that will descend upon you is the wrath and judgment of God. How could a parasite like me who didn’t do his actual job and only lived off the church possibly be the exception before the righteous God? It was only then that I realized that the church arranging for me to return home and reflect on myself was precisely God’s righteous judgment of me. It was also the greatest love and salvation God could give to this rebellious son of His. Otherwise, I would be still holding on to the wrong view of “being able to at least make a living in the church no matter what because of the work I put in, even if it’s not meritorious,” asleep in the beautiful dream I weaved for myself, and ultimately being destroyed by my own conceptions and imagination.
God’s judgment and chastisement made me recognize God’s holiness and righteousness, and understand God’s earnest intention to save me. I could not but fall down before God and offer up a prayer of gratitude: “Oh God! Thank You! Praise You! Even if the way You save me does not match my conceptions, I now understand Your will and see Your earnest intention. I am willing to accept Your chastisement and judgment, and through it properly self-reflect and know myself, know Your righteous disposition, and moreover I’m willing to repent and start afresh to become a new person!”