18. Harmed by My Misunderstandings and Guardedness
By Suxing, China
Some time ago, our church leader lost her position because she didn’t pursue the truth or do practical work, and the other brothers and sisters elected me to take her place. The outcome of the election left me concerned. Being a leader requires an understanding of the truth and an ability to resolve others’ difficulties in their life entry. It also means taking on a burden and doing practical work. I’d served as a leader a few times before, but always ended up being replaced because I was pursuing name and status and failed to do practical work. I knew that if I didn’t do my job well this time around, aside from impeding the work of God’s house and church members’ life entry, at best I’d be dismissed, and at worst I could be exposed and eliminated. I had no interest in being a leader again, in seeking higher status; I just wanted to keep my head down and do my duty properly. So, I turned it down on the spot, saying, “No, I’m not up to the task,” and came up with all sorts of excuses. I felt confident that that was the reasonable, self-aware thing to do, but it was only through subsequent fellowship with brothers and sisters that I realized that my reluctance to take on a leadership role was because I was under the control of satanic poisons like “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” and “It’s lonely at the top.” I felt like being a leader was dangerous, that it would put me at risk of being exposed and eliminated at any moment. I understood in principle that my take on it wasn’t in line with the truth, and I did accept the leadership duty, but I couldn’t shake my anxieties surrounding my duty because I hadn’t resolved that state of mine. I was afraid of performing poorly and being dismissed and eliminated, so I was living in a condition of guardedness and misunderstandings. During that time, my state just continued to deteriorate; my prayers were uninspired, I didn’t gain any light from reading God’s words, and I couldn’t muster up any enthusiasm for my duty. I was living in a total daze. In my pain, I called out to God: “Oh God! I’m so rebellious; I can’t submit in the face of this duty. Please guide me, allow me to know myself and obey.”
I read this passage of God’s words after my prayer: “I take pleasure in those who are not suspicious of others, and I like those who readily accept the truth; toward these two kinds of people I show great care, for in My eyes they are honest people. If you are deceitful, then you will be guarded and suspicious toward all people and matters, and thus your faith in Me will be built upon a foundation of suspicion. I could never acknowledge such faith. Lacking true faith, you are even more devoid of true love. And if you are liable to doubt God and speculate about Him at will, then you are, without question, the most deceitful of all people. You speculate whether God can be like man: unpardonably sinful, of petty character, devoid of fairness and reason, lacking a sense of justice, given to vicious tactics, treacherous and cunning, pleased by evil and darkness, and so on. Is not the reason that people have such thoughts because they lack the slightest knowledge of God? Such faith is nothing short of sin! There are even some who believe that the ones who please Me are precisely those who flatter and bootlick, and that those lacking in such skills will be unwelcome in the house of God and will lose their place there. Is this the only knowledge you have acquired after all these years? Is this what you have gained? And your knowledge of Me does not stop at these misunderstandings; even worse is your blasphemy against God’s Spirit and vilification of Heaven. This is why I say that such faith as yours will only cause you to stray further from Me and be in greater opposition against Me” (“How to Know the God on Earth” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). God’s words of judgment and revelation struck fear into my heart, particularly the part where He says, “And your knowledge of Me does not stop at these misunderstandings; even worse is your blasphemy against God’s Spirit and vilification of Heaven.” That was incredibly poignant for me. Being in that state of defensiveness and delusions was me resisting and blaspheming God. I thought about how all those times I’d been dismissed from a leadership role, it was because I didn’t pursue the truth, but I was just chasing after name and status, trying to get people to adore me and look up to me. I was on a path contrary to God. After being removed from my position, it was God’s words that led me to understand His will; it was God’s words that guided me out from my failure and negativity. And even after that, God still gave me a chance to continue doing my duty, to pursue the truth and attain His salvation over the course of performing my duty. I realized that God had no intention of exposing and eliminating me, but I was full of speculation and doubts, thinking that God was going to use my service as a leader to expose and get rid of me. That was entirely a misunderstanding of God—it was blasphemy! This finally stirred my rebellious heart a bit, and I saw that even though I had been dismissed a few times, I’d never used those experiences as an opportunity to seek the truth and reflect on myself. Instead, my misunderstandings of God and my guardedness just grew. I became filled with guilt and regret.
I read another passage of God’s words after that: “In the moment corrupt people gain status—regardless of who they are—do they then become antichrists? (If they do not pursue the truth, then they will become antichrists, but if they do pursue the truth, then they will not.) This is not at all absolute. So, do those who walk the path of the antichrists take that path because of status? That happens when people do not take the right path. They have a good path to follow, yet they do not follow it; instead, they insist on following the evil one. This is akin to how people eat: Some do not consume food that can nurture their bodies and support a normal existence, but instead insist on consuming things that do them harm, ultimately shooting themselves in the foot. Is this not their own choice? What is it that some of those who have served as leaders and then been eliminated go around disseminating? ‘Don’t be a leader, and don’t let yourself gain status. People are in danger the minute they gain any status, and God will expose them! Once they are exposed, they will not even be qualified to be ordinary believers, and will no longer have any opportunities whatsoever.’ What sort of thing is that to say? At best, it represents a misunderstanding of God; at worst, it is blasphemy against Him. If you do not walk the right path, do not pursue the truth, and do not follow God’s way, but instead you insist on going the way of the antichrists and end up on Paul’s path, ultimately meeting the same outcome, the same end as Paul, still blaming God and passing judgment on God as unrighteous, then are you not the genuine article of an antichrist? Such behavior is cursed!” (“To Resolve One’s Corrupt Disposition, One Must Have a Specific Path of Practice” in Records of Talks of Christ of the Last Days). This passage of God’s words showed me that when people take the path of an antichrist and are eliminated, it’s not because they’ve been damaged by the trappings of status. It’s rooted in a failure to pursue the truth; it’s rooted in constantly pursuing fame and gain, in showing off and wanting to be adulated, sometimes even to the point of doing evil and hindering the work of the church. Taking a closer look, I saw that my previous failures hadn’t been because of my position, but because I had an arrogant disposition and didn’t pursue the truth in my duty. Instead, I was pursuing name and status, and wasn’t properly upholding my duties. Plenty of other brothers and sisters had the position of a leader too, but they took the right path. They focused on self-reflection and self-knowledge when they revealed corruption, experienced failure, or committed a transgression; they focused on seeking the truth to resolve their own corrupt disposition, on doing things according to the truth principles. They also became more and more successful in their work over time. Having status really shows someone’s true colors. For someone who pursues the truth, no matter how high of a position they hold, they won’t be driven to do evil, but for those who do not pursue the truth, they’ll be eliminated in the end even if they aren’t in a position of power. Gaining an understanding of all of this also helped me realize why I was so resistant to being chosen as a leader, and why I made excuses not to take that on. It was mainly because even after being dismissed a few times, I still didn’t pursue the truth or reflect on the root of my failures, but instead I thought it was the status I held that had caused me to stumble time and again. I also clung to fallacies like “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” and “It’s lonely at the top” as if they were the truth. So when the brothers and sisters chose me as a leader again, I didn’t submit and happily take it on, but instead tried to protect myself, afraid that if I served as a leader I’d be exposed and dismissed yet again, or I would end up doing evil and being driven out. How absurd I was!
I read this in God’s words, too: “There is no correlation between the duty of man and whether he is blessed or cursed. Duty is what man ought to fulfill; it is his heaven-sent vocation, and should not depend on recompense, conditions, or reasons. Only then is he doing his duty. To be blessed is when someone is made perfect and enjoys God’s blessings after experiencing judgment. To be cursed is when someone’s disposition does not change after they have experienced chastisement and judgment, it is when they do not experience being made perfect but are punished. But regardless of whether they are blessed or cursed, created beings should fulfill their duty, doing what they ought to do, and doing what they are able to do; this is the very least that a person, a person who pursues God, should do. You should not do your duty only to be blessed, and you should not refuse to act for fear of being cursed. Let Me tell you this one thing: Man’s performance of his duty is what he ought to do, and if he is incapable of performing his duty, then this is his rebelliousness” (“The Difference Between the Ministry of God Incarnate and the Duty of Man” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I could see from God’s words that a person’s duty isn’t the deciding factor for whether they’re ultimately blessed or cursed; rather, that’s mainly based on whether they pursue the truth in their duty, whether they end up gaining the truth and achieving dispositional change. I felt so ashamed in light of God’s words, and I saw that in all my years of faith, I’d just been madly chasing after my personal future and destination. At first, I thought that having a leadership position in God’s house would gain others’ esteem and God’s approval, that I’d end up being blessed and having a good final destination. That drove me to exert myself enthusiastically, to suffer for my duty. But after being dismissed multiple times, I became afraid of being exposed and eliminated as a leader, so I became reluctant to take on that duty. I realized that I was doing my duty in a transactional way, to secure a good destination from God. I even wanted God to personally guarantee that I could be saved before I was willing to make some sacrifices and expend some effort. I rejected God’s commission for me in order to protect myself, twisting logic and grasping for excuses, saying I was afraid of standing in the way of the church’s work. I even thought I was being perfectly reasonable—it was just the opposite! At that point, I felt terrible when I read this in God’s words: “Man’s performance of his duty is what he ought to do, and if he is incapable of performing his duty, then this is his rebelliousness.” It was simply a fact that I lacked the truth reality and my stature was inadequate. God giving me the chance to act as a leader wasn’t because I was capable of taking on that role, but it was in the hope that I would pursue the truth through the performance of my duty, that I would work on my personal flaws and manage to perform my duty satisfactorily. But instead, I was selfish and despicable, just thinking of myself, afraid that if I were exposed and replaced as a leader, I’d lose out on a good outcome and destination. And so I racked my brains to get out of it. I was incredibly rebellious—how could I claim to have a modicum of submission to God?
I read a couple more passages of God’s words in my seeking. “Peter’s work was the performance of the duty of a creature of God. He did not work in the role of an apostle, but worked whilst pursuing the love for God. The course of Paul’s work also contained his personal pursuit: His pursuit was for the sake of nothing more than his hopes for the future, and his desire for a good destination. He did not accept refinement during his work, nor did he accept pruning and dealing. He believed that as long as the work he did satisfied God’s desire, and all that he did was pleasing to God, then a reward ultimately awaited him. There were no personal experiences in his work—it was all for its own sake, and not carried out amid the pursuit of change. Everything in his work was a transaction, it contained none of the duty or submission of a creature of God. During the course of his work, there occurred no change in Paul’s old disposition. His work was merely of service to others, and was incapable of bringing about changes in his disposition. Paul carried out his work directly, without having been made perfect or dealt with, and he was motivated by reward. Peter was different: He was someone who had undergone pruning and dealing and had undergone refinement. The aim and motivation of the work of Peter were fundamentally different to those of Paul” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “As a creature of God, man should seek to perform the duty of a creature of God, and seek to love God without making other choices, for God is worthy of man’s love. Those who seek to love God should not seek any personal benefits or seek that which they personally long for; this is the most correct means of pursuit. If what you seek is the truth, if what you put into practice is the truth, and if what you attain is a change in your disposition, then the path that you tread is the right one. If what you seek is the blessings of the flesh, and what you put into practice is the truth of your own notions, and if there is no change in your disposition, and you are not at all obedient to God in the flesh, and you still live in vagueness, then what you seek will surely take you to hell, for the path that you walk is the path of failure. Whether you will be made perfect or eliminated depends on your own pursuit, which is also to say that success or failure depends on the path that man walks” (“Success or Failure Depends on the Path That Man Walks” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). Reading these passages helped me better understand Peter’s path to success and Paul’s path to failure. I saw that Peter sought to do the duty of a created being, and he submitted to God whether his duty would bring him blessings or not. He acted as a resounding witness for God, obedient even to the point of death. Paul, on the other hand, sought blessings and rewards, and his hard work was to gain a crown of righteousness. He used his work as capital to barter with God, taking the path of an antichrist and ultimately earning God’s punishment. When I reflected on myself, I saw that in my faith, I wasn’t trying to do the duty of a created being, but I was doing it for the sake of blessings and a good destination. I also wanted to pay the most minimal price possible in exchange for the blessings of the kingdom of heaven. When I saw the duty of leadership involves great responsibilities, I thought that if I did end up standing in the way of the work of God’s house, I’d lose my chance at a good outcome and destination. That’s why I was really resistant to that. Wasn’t I on exactly the same path of failure as Paul? Through my faith, I’d gotten to enjoy so many truths expressed by God, but it never occurred to me to give something back. Instead, I was just trying to figure out what my own future would be, being calculating and trying to cheat God. I was so selfish, despicable, crafty, and wicked! After I realized all this, I no longer wanted to live that way, but truly wanted to follow Peter’s example and step onto the path of pursuing the truth, to give myself over to God and submit to His rule and arrangements.
I give thanks to God for the judgment and chastisement of His words which corrected my false notion that “It’s lonely at the top” and allowed me to clearly see that I was on the wrong path in my faith, the path of pursuing blessings, and gain some understanding of my cunning satanic nature. From then on, I stopped trying to get out of my duty as a leader and shouldered the responsibility. I started to focus on pursuing the truth and seeking to do my duty as a created being.