By Li Jie, United States
says, “God works in every single person, and no matter what His method is, what kind of people, things and matters He makes use of to do service, or what kind of tone His words have, He only has one end goal: saving you. Before saving you, He needs to transform you, so how could you not suffer a bit? You’re going to have to suffer. This suffering can involve many things. Sometimes God raises up the people, matters, and things around you so that you can come to know yourself, or else you might be directly dealt with, pruned, and exposed. Just like someone on an operating table—you have to undergo some pain for a good outcome” (“To Attain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Having failed and fallen down multiple times is not a bad thing; nor is being exposed. Whether you have been dealt with, pruned, or been exposed, you must remember this at all times: Being exposed does not mean that you are being condemned. Being exposed is a good thing; it is the best opportunity for you to get to know yourself. It can bring your life experience a change of gears. Without it, you will possess neither the opportunity, the condition, nor the context to be able to reach an understanding of the truth of your corruption. If you can come to know the things inside you, all those aspects hidden deep within you that are hard to recognize and difficult to unearth, then this is a good thing. Becoming able to truly know yourself is the best opportunity for you to mend your ways and become a new person; it is the best opportunity for you to obtain new life. Once you truly know yourself, you will be able to see that when the truth becomes one’s life, it is a precious thing indeed, and you will thirst for the truth and enter into the reality. This is such a great thing! If you can grab this opportunity and earnestly reflect upon yourself and gain a genuine knowledge of yourself whenever you fail or fall down, then in the midst of negativity and weakness, you will be able to stand back up. Once you have crossed this threshold, you will then be able to take a big step forward and enter into the reality of the truth” (“To Attain the Truth, You Must Learn From the People, Matters, and Things Around You” in Records of Christ’s Talks). Through God’s words, I can see that no matter how God works in someone, whether it’s judgment and refinement, being pruned and dealt with, or being replaced in their duty, it’s all done to have them reflect on and know themselves, so their disposition can change.
When I’d been a believer for just a few months, I remember the fellowship given by Sister Zhao, a leader, was really enlightening, and good for solving practical problems. I really admired her and thought, “It’ll be amazing when I get to the point where I can be like Sister Zhao, resolving brothers’ and sisters’ problems through fellowship on the truth!” For a while, whenever I heard about someone being elected as a leader or deacon I got all worked up, longing for the day I’d be in their shoes. After that, I started throwing myself into eating, drinking, and pondering God’s words, and I kept a devotional diary. I participated enthusiastically in all the church’s work.
A couple of years later, I was elected as a church leader. Sister Liu and I shared responsibility for the work of the church. Whenever I saw a problem in the church work or brothers and sisters encountered difficulties in their duties, I would seek out Sister Liu to discuss it and seek the truth to resolve it. After a couple of months, we started seeing real results in the church’s work, and my leader asked me to share what I was learning with everyone at co-workers’ gatherings. I was very pleased to see how the leader valued me, and how brothers and sisters looked up to me. Without even realizing it, I started showing off in the gatherings. I was always fellowshiping on how I’d watered and supported brothers and sisters, how I’d resolved problems, how I’d suffered in my duty, what price I’d paid, and how the church’s work had become successful, step by step. This led some brothers and sisters to look up to and admire me, so when they encountered problems they didn’t focus on praying and seeking the truth, but instead came directly to me. I felt more and more that I was what a leader is made of. I figured the success in the church’s work was mostly down to my own hard work, so I started looking down on Sister Liu a bit and I wouldn’t listen to her suggestions. I alone had the final say in the work of the church. When I saw that Sister Liu was feeling a little constrained by me, I didn’t reflect on myself and even bragged in a gathering: “Even though Sister Liu and I are both responsible for the church’s work, she’s been prone to being negative and passive in her duty, so I have to be the one concerned about it and really paying a price. I’m really worried about Sister Liu. If this goes on, I’m afraid the church’s work will suffer.” The brothers and sisters said that I was responsible and shouldered the load in my duty. I was really happy to hear this, and I basked in their support and admiration.
A few days later, a sister realized what my issue was and cautioned me, “Sister, I’ve noticed that recently you haven’t been fellowshiping much on your practical experiences, like what kind of corruption or rebelliousness you reveal in the face of an issue, how you reflect on and know yourself, or how you seek the truth to resolve things, and how you change in the end. I hardly ever hear you talk about those things. Mostly, you fellowship on how you resolve other people’s problems and how you suffer, which only gets the others to look up to and adulate you. You’re not on the right path. Don’t waste any time—reflect on yourself!” But I couldn’t hear what she had to say at all. I thought, “All of my fellowship is on my actual personal experience. Brothers and sisters approve of me because I can resolve problems with the truth. How could you say the others adulate me, and that I’m not on the right path? You said that just because you’re jealous of me, didn’t you?” At the time, I was intoxicated with name and status and my heart was numb and rigid. Over time, I felt darker and darker within, and I could no longer understand or resolve others’ states or the difficulties in their duties. I ended up being dismissed from my duty as a leader because I couldn’t do practical work.
After that, I felt devoid of all strength, and I didn’t want to face reality. I got so negative that I didn’t even want to attend gatherings. I felt too ashamed to face the brothers and sisters. Before, I’d been the one leading gatherings and giving fellowship to others, but now I was the one on the receiving end. I worried about how the others would see me. I got more upset and distressed the more I thought about it. I couldn’t focus in gatherings and sometimes I’d even nod off. I was really weak and negative, and felt that I’d been abandoned by God. I couldn’t help but burst into tears and knelt down to God in prayer: “Oh God! I’m really suffering. I don’t want to live in this kind of state. God, I beg for Your guidance and salvation. I’m willing to reflect on and know myself in earnest …”
I watched a video of a reading of God’s words after praying. Almighty God says, “In your seeking, you have too many individual notions, hopes, and futures. The current work is in order to deal with your desire for status and your extravagant desires. Hopes, status, and notions are all classic representations of satanic disposition. … You are now followers, and you have gained some understanding of this stage of work. However, you have still not put aside your desire for status. When your status is high you seek well, but when your status is low you no longer seek. The blessings of status are always on your mind. Why is it that the majority of people cannot remove themselves from negativity? Is the answer not invariably because of bleak prospects? … The more you seek in this way, the less you will reap. The greater a person’s desire for status, the more seriously they will have to be dealt with and the more they will have to undergo great refinement. Such people are worthless! They must be dealt with and judged adequately in order for them to thoroughly let go of these things. If you pursue this way until the end, you will reap nothing. Those who do not pursue life cannot be transformed, and those who do not thirst for the truth cannot gain the truth. You do not focus on pursuing personal transformation and entry, but focus instead on extravagant desires and things that constrain your love for God and prevent you from drawing close to Him. Can those things transform you? Can they bring you into the kingdom?” (“Why Are You Unwilling to Be a Foil?” in).
God’s words entirely revealed my motives and ideas about pursuing status in my faith. I thought back on when I’d just become a believer. I really admired the leaders and longed for the day I could be a leader and be looked up to. When I did become a leader, I did my duty from dawn till dusk, happy to do it no matter how exhausting. When I felt valued by the leader and looked up to by brothers and sisters, I became even more motivated. In gatherings, I was always showing off, flaunting how much I’d rushed about working, how much I’d suffered, and I even denigrated Sister Liu and elevated myself so that people would adulate me. After I was replaced as a leader and didn’t have any status, I immediately fell into a pit of negativity I couldn’t climb back out from. Faced with the facts, I saw that I wasn’t pursuing the truth or doing my duty in my faith, but I was pursuing status. When I had that, I had drive, but without that, I collapsed into negativity. I even wrote myself off as hopeless. I saw how serious my desire for status was. How could that kind of pursuit result in gaining the truth and God’s salvation? I used to think I was pretty good, that I understood some truth and was qualified to be a leader. I never imagined I’d become so negative after being replaced. That was when I saw I didn’t have the reality of the truth or any stature. I would just talk to people about empty words and doctrines. I didn’t know myself at all—I didn’t have any insight into myself. If I hadn’t been dismissed from my duty, I still wouldn’t have reflected on and known myself, but would be pursuing status, still on a path of resisting God. That could only hinder the work of God’s house and harm the life entry of my brothers and sisters. I finally realized that being replaced as a leader was God’s righteous judgment and God protecting me. God was dealing with my desire for status, getting me to see I was on the wrong path so I could repent to Him. Realizing this gave me a sense of release.
After that, I read more of God’s words exposing people’s pursuit of name and status, and a couple of passages really stuck with me. “Some people particularly idolize Paul. They like to go out and give speeches and do work, they like to meet together and speak; they like people listening to them, worshiping them, and surrounding them. They like to have status in the minds of others, and they appreciate it when others value their images. Let us analyze their natures from these behaviors: What sort of nature do people with such behaviors possess? If they really behave like this, then it is enough to show that they are arrogant and conceited. They do not worship God at all; they seek a higher status and wish to have authority over others, to possess them, and to have status in their minds. This is a classic image of Satan. The aspects of their natures that stand out are arrogance and conceit, an unwillingness to worship God, and a desire to be worshiped by others. Such behaviors can give you a very clear view into their natures” (“How to Know Man’s Nature” in Records of Christ’s Talks). “Others might use their positions to repeatedly testify about themselves, aggrandize themselves, and compete with God for people and status. They use various methods and measures to make people worship them, constantly trying to win people over and control them. Some even intentionally mislead people into thinking that they are God so that they can be treated like God. They would never tell someone that they have been corrupted—that they too are corrupt and arrogant, not to worship them, and that no matter how well they do, it is all due to God’s exaltation and that they are doing what they ought to, anyway. Why do they not say these things? Because they are deeply afraid of losing their place in people’s hearts. This is why such people never exalt God and never bear witness to God” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
God’s words revealed to me that people always pursue name and status, and don’t exalt or bear witness to God. Instead they constantly show off and get others to adulate them and crowd around them because of their satanic dispositions, and this is cursed and punished by God. Paul was a perfect example of that. He adored having status and authority and really focused on his position and prestige. In his epistles, he often bore witness to how much work he’d done, how much he’d suffered for the Lord, and he said he was no less than the other apostles. His hard work and the price he paid weren’t to pursue the truth or do the duty of a created being, but they were to satisfy his own wild ambitions, to be adored by others, and ultimately to be rewarded and crowned. That’s why his life disposition didn’t change at all after years of hard work, and he ultimately lost his reason in his arrogance, testifying that for him, to live was Christ. He had a pipe dream of taking the Lord Jesus’ place so that people would follow and emulate him. He seriously offended God’s disposition. Paul had a satanic nature that was incredibly arrogant and conceited. Everything he did was to satiate his own wild ambitions, and it was all antagonistic to God. He was on the path of an antichrist in opposition to God, which was condemned and cursed by God. As for me, when I accomplished a bit in my duty, I said I thanked God for His guidance, but in my heart, I took all the credit for myself. I was brazenly stealing God’s glory, showing off at every turn, bragging about how much I’d rushed about and suffered, and how many problems I’d solved so others would adulate me. When I saw Sister Liu had become negative and weak, I helped and supported her superficially, but in my heart, I judged and spurned her. I even denigrated her in gatherings while elevating myself, wanting the brothers and sisters to look up to me and listen to me. One sister did see my problem and helpfully warned me out of love, but I stubbornly refused to accept it. I even thought she was belittling me, that she was jealous of me. I saw how incredibly unreasonable I’d become. I wasn’t focused in my duty on fellowshiping on the truth to exalt and bear witness to God, but instead I showed off and protected my own status at every turn so I’d be looked up to. I saw how arrogant and conceited I was by nature. I was living out an entirely satanic nature, and I was walking the antichrist path in resistance to God that Paul walked. I knew if I didn’t repent, I’d be condemned and eliminated by God. This thought scared me. I rushed to come before God in prayer, willing to pursue the truth and repent to God. After that, I ate and drank God’s words more, and reflected on and learned about myself. I examined my motives and intentions behind my actions. When faced with problems, I focused on practicing God’s words, and my state gradually improved.
A month later, a leader arranged for me to take on hosting duties, and I wasn’t too happy about this at first. When I’d been a leader, other people would host me, but now I was going to host others. What a difference! But then I thought, “Aren’t I still pursuing name and status? Hosting brothers and sisters may not seem like anything special, but it’s my duty, it’s my responsibility and obligation. I shouldn’t have my own choice or demands, but should submit to God’s rule and arrangements.” And so, I agreed. Two days later, the leader brought a couple of sisters to my home. I saw right away that I’d done my duty with these two sisters before. My face went red right away and I felt incredibly awkward, as if I were on a lower rung than them. We exchanged pleasantries, then I went into the kitchen to make some food. While cooking, I reminisced about when I was doing my duty alongside those sisters. I was leading gatherings and giving them fellowship. I’d never imagined they’d be leaders now while I was at home on hosting duty. I felt really unsettled. I then realized that I was focusing on name and status again, so I rushed to pray and call on God, and then I thought of this passage of His words: “As one of the creatures, man must keep his own position, and behave conscientiously. Dutifully guard that which is entrusted to you by the Creator. Do not act out of line, or do things beyond your range of ability or which are loathsome to God. Do not try to be great, or become a superman, or above others, nor seek to become God. This is how people should not desire to be. Seeking to become great or a superman is absurd. Seeking to become God is even more disgraceful; it is disgusting, and despicable. What is commendable, and what the creatures should hold to more than anything else, is to become a true creature; this is the only goal that all people should pursue” (“God Himself, the Unique I” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). As I pondered God’s words, I understood that God doesn’t want lofty, great people, but genuine created beings. With or without status, it’s only being able to submit to God’s rule and arrangements, being an honest person, and upholding your duty that meets God’s will. God preordained me to be the little grass, and I had to submit without seeking to be the great tree, do my work as the little grass well, and do my duty well. I thought back on my time as a leader. There appeared to be glory in it, but I wasn’t focused on pursuing the truth. Instead, I always pursued name and status. I was complacent, putting on airs, becoming more and more arrogant, living out a satanic disposition and disgusting God. Now I was doing hosting duty, which didn’t look like much, but being able to carry out my own responsibility and duty made me feel much more peaceful and at ease. Thinking it through, I no longer felt that being a host put me on a lower rung. I was able to submit from the bottom of my heart.
After having lunch, the three of us had a gathering. I opened up in fellowship on what I’d learned in my duty over that time, and they fellowshiped on their own experiences, too. It was really freeing for me, and I no longer felt as bound by name and status. That was the knowledge I gained from my experience of being a leader and then being replaced. Thanks be to God!