I Can Finally Live Out a Bit of Human Likeness
By Xiangwang, Sichuan Province
God’s words say: “Cruel, brutal mankind! The conniving and intrigue, the jostling with each other, the scramble for reputation and fortune, the mutual slaughter—when will it ever end? God has spoken hundreds of thousands of words, yet no one has come to their senses. They act for the sake of their families, and sons and daughters, for their careers, prospects, status, vanity, and money, for the sake of clothes, for food and the flesh—whose actions are truly for the sake of God? Even among those whose actions are for the sake of God, there are but few who know God. How many do not act for the sake of their own interests? How many do not oppress and discriminate against others for the sake of maintaining their own status? Thus, God has been forcibly condemned to death innumerable times, countless barbaric judges have condemned God and once more nailed Him to the cross” (“The Wicked Must Be Punished” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). I feel deeply chastised in my heart every time I see these words from God. I think back to how, in the past, I did not pursue, in fulfilling my duty I competed against my working partners time and time again, and I would oppress or discriminate against others for the sake of my own reputation and benefit. Not only did I suffer losses in my own life, but I also caused work to suffer losses. It was God’s repeated chastisement and judgment that made me awaken, and I then saw clearly the emptiness of fame and gain and its harm to me, I put aside my pursuit of reputation and status and began to live out a bit of human likeness.
I accepted God’s work ofin 1999. At the time I fulfilled the duty of hosting others. I saw how wonderfully some brothers and sisters fellowshiped, how they were able to find words from God to resolve any issue. I was happy to engage with them, and I would communicate openly with them on any issue. I also envied them very much, thinking: “Wouldn’t it be great if I could be like them one day, solving many problems that bothered my brothers and sisters, and being at the center of them all?” Thereafter, I began to read God’s words, attend meetings and perform my duty more proactively. In 2007, I was assigned to perform the duty of church leader. Any wrong state or difficulty a brother or sister had, and all the various problems that cropped up in the church, were reported to me. I would then search for God’s words in relation to their problems and give them fellowship to resolve their problems. After a while, I felt that I could resolve some difficulties that my brothers and sisters had through fellowshiping about the truth, and my heart felt much enjoyment; I felt like all my hard work over the past few years was paying off. I behaved in a positive manner when performing my duty so that I could hold on to the position and fulfill my own vanity. No matter what work was assigned by the upper-level leaders, I always actively catered to them, even if my co-workers felt it was difficult or were unwilling to go along with it, I never complained. Even if there were things I did not understand I played along, thus winning the praise of the leaders.
In order to gain the upper-level leaders’ praise and stand out from my co-workers, I changed the way I worked: When my brothers and sisters reported any difficulties in their work, I no longer fellowshiped about the truth and patiently guided them, but instead I would often prune and deal with them. I started to micromanage and press them in work. After I began to practice in this way, work results improved very quickly, which delighted me. I thought that better results meant I was among the best of my co-workers and I became enamored with myself. Not long after Brother Wang was transferred over to partner with me. He was good-looking, and his communication of the truth was clear. The brothers and sisters in our church all praised him. This upset me. I thought: “My brothers and sisters all praised his fellowship—that must mean mine is no good! It would have been better if Brother Wang hadn’t been sent here. Now that he’s come, there is no place for me anymore in the hearts of my brothers and sisters.” Measuring myself against him I found he really was better than me, but I was unwilling to give up. At that time I was concerned with reputation and benefit and was uninterested in the problems of the church. I started to worry about what I wore, how I spoke and acted. In gatherings I deliberately showed off my cleverness so my brothers and sisters would think highly of me. Sometimes I would belittle Brother Wang with what I said and observe the attitude our brothers and sisters had toward me. So I was living in an incorrect state that I was unable to extricate myself from. I compared myself to Brother Wang at every turn and had completely lost. Not long after, I was replaced. When I heard the news it was like a knife twisting in my heart—what about my face, my status, my future? God was judging and chastising me, yet I did not reflect on or know myself. On the contrary, I was full of suspicion: “The leaders and co-workers would certainly go through the particulars of my situation and my performance in the church. How would I show my face, and what would those brothers and sisters who knew me think?” Trapped in Satan’s web, I started to complain against God, regretting that I had fulfilled my duty as a leader. The more I thought about it the more I suffered. I felt like I was becoming increasingly distant from God, to the point where I felt my life to be meaningless. I knew I was in a dangerous state, but I did not have the strength to free myself. Then I came before God and prayed: “Oh God! At this moment I am living in darkness, fooled by Satan and suffering greatly. I have not been willing to accept everything that has happened to me now, I have wanted to escape Your chastisement and judgment, and I have complained against and betrayed You. Oh God! I beg You to protect my heart, to make me able to examine and come to know myself, to take pity on me.” After this I saw this sermon: “Some people God treats with particular grace and elevation. They are promoted to become leaders or workers, given important tasks. But these people do not return God’s love, they live for their own flesh, for status and reputation, seeking to testify of themselves and gain respect. Are these acts good deeds? They are not. These people do not understand how to comfort God’s heart, they have no consideration for God’s wishes. They seek only to satisfy themselves. These are people who harm God’s heart, who do only evil, who cause so much harm, too much harm, to God’s heart. God promotes them as leaders, as workers, to foster them, so they will become perfect. But they have no consideration for God’s wishes and work only for themselves. They do not work to bear witness to God or work so those God has chosen can enter into life. They work to testify of themselves, to achieve their own aims, to have status in God’s chosen people’s hearts. These are the people who are most resistant to God, who harm God’s heart most. This is a betrayal of God. In man’s words it is a failure to appreciate what is done for them, in spiritual terms these people are wicked individuals resisting God” (“The Important Meaning Behind Preparing Good Deeds” in Sermons and Fellowship on Entry Into Life II). This passage felt like a sword stabbing into my heart, leaving me deeply chastised. It was by God’s grace and His exaltation of me that I had become a leader, and it was a God-given opportunity to be perfected. But I had no consideration for God’s intent and did not know to repay His love. I lived for status and reputation, to show myself off and to give for myself so that other people would think highly of me; the essence of this was resisting and betraying God. Now I had come to realize that God detested everything I did and so put an end to my service. It is God and the truth that reign in God’s house. I thought back on what I had revealed in the course of fulfilling my duty: In order to gain my upper-level leaders’ praise, make my brothers and sisters think highly of me, and keep my position, I bowed and scraped to the leaders and agreed with their every word. With my brothers and sisters, I condescendingly lectured them, and I even tried to use them to achieve my aim of standing out from the crowd; I did not fulfill my responsibilities toward the lives of my brothers and sisters. I micromanaged and pressed them in my work to the point where they all feared me and avoided me, not daring to bare their hearts to me. When God had placed Brother Wang and me together, I failed to learn the lessons in this situation or learn Brother Wang’s strengths, but instead intensified my struggle for reputation and benefit to satisfy my own ambitions and desires. This resulted in God becoming disgusted with me and I lost the Holy Spirit’s work. And my replacement was God’s righteous disposition coming upon me: It was the judgment of me, the best , and God’s great love. During that time, whenever I sang the hymn “God’s Pity Gave Me Rebirth,” I would cry, tears streaming down my face. I regretted that my perspective in my seeking was wrong, leading to my current failure. The hymn is: “After I offended Your disposition I fell into darkness and fully felt the harm of Satan. I felt desolate and helpless, accused by my conscience, suffering greater than death, and only then did I know the happiness of a conscience at peace. How many opportunities to be perfect did I waste, failing to see Your good intentions. Even if I give everything I cannot make up for the harm done to Your heart. Oh God, , how I wish to return to before and start afresh. How can I be compatible with You when my heart hides extravagant desires? I lust after the benefits of status—so how can I not fall? I was always inconsiderate of Your wishes, I was passive and resistant toward You, and while serving You I also resisted and cheated. If it wasn’t for Your pity, I would not be here today. Given what I have done death would not redeem me. These breaths I breathe are obtained by Your forbearance. Oh God, Almighty God, I should not have made You suffer so much for me. Your words of life touch my heart, Your exhortations give me endless strength, allowing me to stand up again amidst defeat, showing me the value of life and why I was created. So when faced with Your final request, how could I again evade? I want to use real action to repay the price You have paid. Whether I incur blessings or adversities, I wish only to satisfy You, to give myself to You, to follow You closely even if I receive nothing in return.” This refinement was with me for over a year. Even though I was hovering between life and death during this refinement, and I felt like a layer of skin was being stripped off, unknowingly I found my desires for status and future prospects were weakened, and I saw how valuable this refinement was.
The time passed in the blink of an eye, and in 2012, the brothers and sisters in our church voted me and Brother Zhao to be in charge of the church work. Because I had not done church work for a long time, there were some difficult problems in the church that I had no idea how to deal with. But Brother Zhao had been doing church work all along and made up for what I lacked, and this was what I had to learn from him. I knew this was God’s love—He did not place an unbearable burden upon me. Throughout our cooperation, Brother Zhao was responsible for reporting on our work, and he took on the lion’s share of the fellowship regarding those important issues. When we held gatherings with our brothers and sisters, he was the first to share fellowship and over time it became as if I did not exist. I thought: “Your fellowship is clearer than mine, but I am better atwork. You talk and talk and talk, showing off. It’d be better if we separate so I can also display my strengths. Even though I am not very good at fellowship, I’m better at practical work than you, and managing gospel work is my strength.” Right at that point we received a letter from the sister in charge of our work—for operational reasons we were to separate, each taking responsibility for one area. And although the results for all types of work in the area I was responsible for were not as good as those in Brother Zhao’s area, I was still delighted, and I thought: “I finally got the chance to show my talents. Although the results aren’t very good right now, just wait until I’ve worked on that, and I’ll prove how capable I am.” Once we were working separately, I threw myself into my work and started to organize things, communicating the work arrangements with brothers and sisters so that they were able to grasp what we needed to do, and fellowshiping God’s words to solve current issues and difficulties. After putting in some serious efforts, things did start to improve. I couldn’t help but think: “How is Brother Zhao doing? Is he doing better than I am?” When we had a gathering and I learned that the results of the gospel work within the area I was responsible for really were better than his, I was secretly pleased: “Finally, I’m better than you and can feel proud.” And just as I was feeling pleased, the Holy Spirit reproved me: “Aren’t you stealing God’s glory?” My heart sank. “Yes, spreading the gospel, bearing witness to God and leading even more true believers before God is the duty and responsibility of every one of God’s chosen people. And it was thanks to the cooperation of my brothers and sisters, to God’s blessings, that we had gained those people. What did I have to boast about? My face grew red as I thought of this. I felt that I was so contemptible and I saw that God’s holiness did not permit me to contain such filth. When I realized what my state was, I was deeply grateful for God’s enlightenment. I also wished to turn back to God and not pursue fame or status ever again. In the days that followed, I focused on reading more of God’s words and, whenever I encountered an issue, I would focus on seeking the truth to resolve my own corruption. Imperceptibly, my inner desire to vie for fame shrank, and I was able to work together with my co-workers, drawing on each other’s strengths to make up for what we lacked.