I’m Finally Free of My Misunderstandings of God
By Yi Qian, China
I was a church leader in 2019. Because I was neglecting my responsibilities, just pursuing name and status, jealous of and uncooperative with my partner, and not working harmoniously with her, our work was seriously impacted. The leader dealt with me and offered help and support multiple times, but I was unaccepting. So ultimately, I was dismissed. Losing my duty was really upsetting for me. I’d been dismissed once before for pursuing name and status, and the same problem had cropped up again. I saw that I cared way too much about reputation and status, and constantly disrupted the church’s work. I didn’t seem to be suited to a leadership position at all.
A church leader election came around a few months later. One day a sister told me: “I’d like to vote for you as leader.” Hearing this made me nervous. When I was a leader before, I was always pursuing name and status, did lots of evil, and interrupted the church’s work. Name and status were my weak point, so if I were re-elected as a leader and I started doing the same old thing, chasing reputation and status, and disrupting the church’s work again, then what? If my evil deeds kept piling up, wouldn’t I be condemned and cast out? At this thought, I snapped back at her, “You want to vote for me without even knowing me. You need to be responsible with your vote. If you randomly cast a vote without following the principles and the wrong person is elected, that’s doing evil.” I felt like not being a leader or worker was a safer bet. My scope of responsibilities in my current duty was small, so even if I made some mistakes, the church’s work wouldn’t suffer too much. But being a leader is different. Any slip-up can impact the church’s overall work and that hurts all the brothers and sisters in the church. That’s a great evil. No matter what, I didn’t want to be a leader. In a gathering once, a sister asked for my opinion on the church election. It sounded like she wanted to vote for me. I quickly explained to her, “I’m not a pursuer of the truth and I lack life entry. I damaged the church’s work before because I pursued name and status as a leader.” I also told her about the corruption I’d shown before, and about my shortcomings and faults to make her think I’d not be a good leader.
I felt kind of guilty after the fact. Why was I always stressing to the others that I wasn’t fit to be a leader? Why didn’t I have an attitude of submission toward the election? I read this passage of God’s words in my devotionals: “In fact, people should not take the view that faith is mere belief that there is a God, and that He is the truth, the way, the life, and nothing more. Neither is faith meant only to have you acknowledge God and believe He is the Ruler over all things, that He is almighty, that He created all things in the world, and that He is unique and supreme. Faith is not merely a matter of belief in this fact. God’s will is that your whole being and heart should be given to Him and submit to Him—that is, you should follow God, allow God to make use of you, and be happy to do service for Him; whatever you can do for Him, you should” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). God’s words really stirred me, and I realized that someone with true faith, who follows God, can give their heart to God, submit to God’s arrangements, and be happy to do service for Him. No matter what duty they do or how God treats them, they can unconditionally accept that and submit, without making any personal choices or demands. This is the proper conscience and reason. Reflecting on myself, though I had faith and did a duty, I always made my own choices and demands in my duty without any submission to God. I always thought that since leaders had more work, they’d be exposed faster, that once they made a mistake and disrupted the church’s work, their future and fate were on the line, so I didn’t want to be a leader or worker. I tried to think of everything to avoid that church election, intentionally talking up my issues and faults to others out of my fear of being selected. I then realized I’d been wary of God, misunderstanding Him, and not at all obedient. I thought of Noah’s attitude toward God’s commission. When God commanded him to build the ark, he didn’t think of his personal losses or gains or whether God would allow him to use the ark to avoid the flood after he finished it. He just threw himself into building the ark, as God requested. Noah was truly obedient and considerate of God, but I had faith and did a duty only for my own future and fate. I was always thinking of whether I’d be blessed. I never considered God’s will or the church’s work. I wanted to do whichever duty didn’t require taking on responsibility. Whatever required sacrifice and taking on responsibility, I’d do whatever I could to get out of it. I didn’t remotely consider God’s will or requirements, and just wanted His blessings. What kind of faith was that? I was just using God, cheating Him. I had no submission or devotion. Realizing this, I said a prayer, “Oh God, my motive for doing my duty isn’t right, it’s not to pursue the truth and obey You, but it’s in exchange for a good destination, with no thought for Your will. God, I don’t want to keep cheating You like this. I want to repent. No matter what duty is arranged for me, I’ll accept it and submit.”
I ended up being elected church leader in the election. I knew that the chance to keep practicing as a leader was God’s grace, but I had some concerns. As a church leader, if I pursued name and status like before and disrupted the church’s work, would I be exposed and cast out? I still felt kind of unwilling to be a leader, but refusing this duty would be defying God. Reluctantly, I submitted to it.
Before long, since we had so many newcomers joining, we needed a team leader to take on the watering work. Brothers and sisters provided a few candidate suggestions. My partner was busy with other things, so she asked me to review the assessments brothers and sisters had made of the potential candidates. I thought, “If I look at the assessments first, I’ll have to be the first to share an opinion. What if I’m wrong about something and select the wrong person, then this holds up the watering work? Though ultimately I’ll discuss it and decide with my partner, if I’m the first one expressing an opinion, I’ll be the one held accountable. If my transgressions keep piling up, I won’t have a good outcome or destination.” This thought made me somewhat fearful, and I didn’t want to be the first to air my views. I realized I wasn’t in the right state, that I was misunderstanding and being wary of God, but I couldn’t shake it off. So I opened up to the brothers and sisters and sought fellowship. A sister said to me, “If you want to resolve misunderstandings and wariness of God, you have to think about what misconception is leading to this.” This gave me a direction for getting an understanding of the issue. I prayed and sought with God, plus read relevant words of God.
One day, I read a couple of passages of God’s word. “Some people believe in God for a few years yet do not understand the least bit of the truth. Their outlook on things remains the same as that of unbelievers. When they see a false leader or antichrist being exposed and cast out, they think, ‘Believing in God, following God, living before God—it’s all walking on thin ice! It’s like living on the edge of a knife!’ And others say, ‘Serving God—“keeping a king’s company is like keeping a tiger’s,” as they say. One wrong word, one thing done wrong, and you’ll offend God’s disposition, and you’ll be cast out and punished!’ Are these remarks right? ‘Walking on thin ice’ and ‘living on the edge of a knife’—what do these mean? They mean great danger, that there is great danger at every moment, that with the least bit of carelessness, one will lose their footing. ‘Keeping a king’s company is like keeping a tiger’s’ is a common saying among unbelievers. It means that living beside a devil king is just too dangerous. If one applies this saying to serving God, where is their error? To compare a devil king with God, with the Lord of Creation—is this not blasphemy against God? It is a serious problem. God is a righteous and holy God; that man should be punished for resisting God or being hostile to Him is ordained by Heaven and acknowledged by earth. Satan the devil has not a shred of the truth; it is filthy and evil, slaughtering the innocent, devouring the good. How can it be likened to God? Why do people distort the facts and defame God? This is tremendous blasphemy against Him! When some people who are often negative and who do not perform their duties sincerely are pruned and dealt with, they worry that they will be cast out, and they often think to themselves, ‘Believing in God really is walking on thin ice! As soon as you do something wrong, you get dealt with; as soon as you’re labeled a false leader or antichrist, you get replaced and cast out. In God’s house, it’s not uncommon for God to get angry, and when people have done bad things, they’re cast out with a word. God’s house doesn’t even give them a chance to repent.’ Is that really how it is, factually? Does God’s house not give people a chance to repent? (That’s wrong.) Those evil people and antichrists are only cast out because they have undergone pruning and dealing for their multifarious evils, yet despite repeated admonitions, they do not change their ways. What is the problem with those people thinking this way? They are simply giving justifications for themselves. They do not pursue the truth, nor do they render service properly, and because they are afraid of being cleared and cast out, they complain bitterly and disseminate notions. Clearly, they are of poor humanity, and they are often careless and perfunctory, negative and slack in their work. They fear being exposed and cast out, so they put all the blame on the church and on God. What quality is at play here? It is the quality of passing judgment on God, of resenting Him, of resisting Him. These remarks are most obvious fallacies and most absurd claims” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Freedom and Liberation Can Be Gained Only by Casting Off One’s Corrupt Disposition). “After being cast out, some leaders and workers spread notions, saying, ‘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 receive no blessings at all.’ What sort of thing is that to say? At best, it represents a misunderstanding of God; at worst, it is blasphemy against Him” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Resolve the Temptations and Bondage of Status). God’s words exposed my exact state. This absurd perspective was ruling my life. I was imagining God to be like an overlord, as if being a leader were like walking on thin ice. If a person made the slightest mistake or slip-up, God could condemn that person, and expose and cast them out at any moment. I was living by that idea and I’d been misunderstanding God since I’d been dismissed. I thought that as a leader, the higher you climb, the harder your fall, and that was why I was exposed. It was because of that mistaken view that though I knew the church’s work badly needed people to take on responsibility, I kept dodging the election, afraid I’d be chosen as a leader and then if I made a mistake, I wouldn’t come to a good ending. When I was elected as a leader, instead of being grateful for God’s grace, I felt like I was living on a knife-edge and that I had to be particularly careful, that if I slipped up, I might even lose the chance to practice my faith, to say nothing of being saved. I was always very wary of God, very timid in my duty. When we had to choose a watering team leader, I didn’t even dare express an opinion, fearing I’d say the wrong thing and be held accountable. I saw how deeply I’d misunderstood God. God is the Creator, His disposition is holy and righteous, and He is principled toward people. If God condemns or casts someone out, it’s always based on that person’s attitude toward God and the truth. I thought of the Ninevites. Their evil deeds disgusted God, so God decided to destroy them. But when they heard Jonah share what God had said, they all put on sackcloth and ashes, and confessed and repented. They abandoned the evil in their hands and left their wicked path. Seeing their genuine repentance, God changed His attitude toward them and didn’t destroy them after all. The Sodomites were similarly full of wickedness, but they were stubborn and didn’t want to repent. When they saw the two messengers sent by God, they wanted to do harm to them. They hated God and were resolutely opposed to Him, so they suffered God’s curses and punishment. We can see from God’s different attitudes toward the people in these two cities that when people commit evil and transgressions, as long as they can truly repent, God will give them a chance. As for those who hate the truth, resist God, and show no repentance, God will condemn and punish them. I then thought of myself. I was neglecting my duty, and pursuing name and status because of my satanic disposition, disrupting the church’s work. My behavior was disgusting to God, and so I lost the Holy Spirit’s work and was dismissed from my leadership role. However, God didn’t cast me out. When I reflected and knew myself, and was willing to repent to God, He gave me another chance at leadership so I could get enough practice, learn more truths, and progress more quickly. Wasn’t that entirely God’s mercy and love for me? But I didn’t understand God’s earnest intentions. I was always second-guessing and guarding against God, being cunning and evil. I thought being a leader would get me exposed and cast out. I really didn’t know God! Looking at my attitude toward God, how was that any kind of faith? I was tarnishing, blaspheming God, offending His disposition!
I was reminded of these words of God: “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” (The Word, Vol. 1. The Appearance and Work of God. How to Know the God on Earth). Pondering these words, I realized how cunning and evil I was by nature. I had faith and followed God entirely for my own blessings. I didn’t have any true faith or love for God—I wasn’t genuine at all. I was suspicious and wary of God in all things because of my slyness, afraid I’d make a mistake, and then be exposed and cast out. God absolutely does not approve of this sort of faith. This can only incur God’s disgust and hatred. At this thought, I was filled with guilt and unease, and I just wanted to repent. I read this in God’s words after that: “With satanic nature, once people gain status they are then in danger. So, what should be done? Do they have no path to follow? Once they have fallen into that dangerous situation, is there no way back for them? Tell Me, in the moment corrupt people gain status—regardless of who they are—do they then become antichrists? Is this absolute? (If they do not pursue the truth, then they will become antichrists, but if they do pursue the truth, then they will not.) That is absolutely right: If people do not pursue the truth, they are sure to become antichrists. And is it the case that all who walk the path of the antichrists do so because of status? No, it is chiefly because they have no love of the truth, because they are not right. Regardless of whether they have status or not, people who do not pursue the truth all walk the path of the antichrists. No matter how many sermons they have heard, such people do not accept the truth, they do not walk the right path, and thus inevitably walk the crooked path. 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?” (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. How to Resolve the Temptations and Bondage of Status). I learned from God’s words that one isn’t exposed and cast out once they become a leader or worker, and that having status doesn’t make you more likely to be condemned. Whether a person is saved or cast out in their faith depends entirely on their pursuit and the path they’re taking. If they have heartfelt love for the truth, they can focus on pursuing the truth and being principled when they’re a leader or worker. When they commit transgressions, if they self-reflect and accept being pruned and dealt with, they not only won’t be cast out, but they can gradually learn the truth, cast off their corrupt disposition, and ultimately be saved. I thought back on some of the leaders I’d interacted with. Though they’d shown corruption and transgressed, when they failed and stumbled, or were pruned and dealt with, they were able to reflect on themselves, repent to God, and do things according to principle. They not only weren’t condemned or cast out, but through those experiences they were able to slowly understand the truth, and they grew in life. At this point it became clear to me that it’s not being a leader that gets someone exposed, cast out, condemned, or unable to be saved. Whether I could stand firm or attain would depend on whether I pursued the truth in my duty and whether I focused on resolving my corrupt disposition. I thought of my past, when I was always chasing reputation and status. I was jealous and excluded my partner. I didn’t work well with her. I disrupted the church’s work, didn’t know to repent, and ended up being dismissed. My failure was because I didn’t pursue the truth, and because I blindly pursued name and status and took the wrong path, not because I was a leader. I then became aware that when I see my corruption, just being negative and wary can’t resolve the problem. What’s most important is pursuing the truth and focusing on seeking the truth to resolve my issue. Though I was too preoccupied with name and status, so that would show when I was a leader, so long as I could accept the truth, forsake the flesh, and practice the truth, my corrupt disposition could change bit by bit. If I didn’t pursue the truth, and just lived by my corrupt disposition, no matter what duty I did, I could do something disruptive at any time that would disgust God and get me exposed and cast out. I thought of being a leader this time around. Though I’d run into lots of problems and difficulties, and shown lots of corruption and been pruned and dealt with a bit, I’d learned something about my corrupt disposition. I had unwittingly come to understand lots of confusing issues and struggles through seeking the principles of the truth, and that made up for my shortcomings. These practical gains all came from the time I was a leader, and this was God’s grace for me. I didn’t want to keep rebelling against God and shirking my duty. I swore that I would really treasure this duty, fully devote myself to it, and repay God’s love.
I thought of another passage of God’s words after that. (The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). I understood God’s will from that passage. God has become flesh, appearing and working in the last days to purify and transform mankind’s corrupt dispositions. God is saving us to the greatest extent possible. He doesn’t condemn anyone because they show some corruption or commit a momentary transgression. He looks at whether they truly repent and change after showing corruption. Since we have corrupt dispositions, we often can’t help but do things to rebel against and oppose God, committing transgressions. But if we show remorse afterward, and do what God requires, He’ll give us a chance to repent. Since gaining faith and taking on a duty, I couldn’t help but go after name and status because of my arrogant disposition. I did some disruptive things that harmed the church’s work. But God didn’t condemn me because of my transgressions. When I gained some understanding of my mistaken path of pursuing name and status and wanted to repent, God had mercy on me and enlightened me with His words, allowing me to understand the truth and recognize my corrupt disposition, so I could learn a lesson from my failure, seek the truth, and resolve my transgressions. Realizing this showed me God’s earnest desire to save man. He well knows how deeply Satan has corrupted us and how rooted a satanic nature is in us, which often drives us to do things in rebellion against and defiance of God. But as long as we can repent and follow God’s words, He won’t condemn us. He’ll keep guiding us, allowing us to understand the truth, and cast off the constraints and bonds of our corrupt dispositions. Once I understood these things, my misunderstandings of God evaporated and I no longer felt so overcautious in my duty. When mistakes or oversights cropped up in my work, I was able to face them squarely, seek the truth, and promptly make amends. Doing my duty that way was so freeing.says, “Some people who have committed a small transgression wonder: ‘Has God exposed me and cast me out? Will He strike me down?’ This time, God has come to work not in order to smite people, but to save them to the greatest extent possible. Who is entirely free of error? If everyone were struck down, then how could it be ‘salvation’? Some transgressions are done on purpose, while others are done involuntarily. If you are able to change after you recognize the transgressions you commit involuntarily, would God strike you down before you changed? Can God save people that way? That is not how He works! Whether you have a rebellious disposition or whether you have acted involuntarily, remember this: You should reflect and know yourself. Turn yourself around, right away, and strive for the truth with all your strength—and, no matter what circumstances come about, do not give yourself over to despair. The work God is doing is that of salvation, and He will not casually strike down the people He wants to save. This is certain. Even if there really were a believer in God whom He struck down in the end, that which God does would still be guaranteed to be righteous. In time, He would let you know the reason He struck that person down, so that you would be utterly convinced. Right now, you should care about striving for the truth, focusing on life entry, and seeking to fulfill your duty properly. There is no mistake in this! Ultimately, no matter how God treats you, it is always righteous; you should not doubt this and you do not need to worry. Even if you cannot understand God’s righteousness at the moment, there will come a day when you will be convinced. God does His work in the light and justly; He openly makes everything known. If you apply careful contemplation to this subject, you will come to the conclusion that God’s work is saving people and transforming their dispositions. Given that God’s work is that of transforming people’s dispositions, it is impossible that people should not have outpourings of corruption. It is only in the outflow of someone’s corrupt disposition that they can know themselves, and admit that they have a corrupt disposition, and be willing to receive God’s salvation. If people, after having poured forth a corrupt disposition, do not accept the least bit of the truth and would continue living by their corrupt disposition, they would then be liable to offend God’s disposition. God will carry out different degrees of retribution on them, and they will pay the price for their transgressions. On occasion, you unconsciously become dissolute, and God points it out to you, prunes you, and deals with you. If you change for the better, God will not hold you accountable. This is the normal process of a disposition transforming, and the true significance of the work of salvation is manifest in this process. This is the key”
The upper leader assigned a project to me later on. This was a really important task. The responsibility would be heavy if I messed it up, and though the work had to be discussed and decided with other brothers and sisters, if there was a problem with the decision and the church’s work was disrupted, I’d be primarily responsible as the person in charge. When this occurred to me, I didn’t want to take the project on. Then I thought of something God said: “There are some who say, ‘My caliber is poor, I’m not so educated, I’m untalented, and there are defects in my character. I always have difficulties in performing my duty. If I do a bad job and get replaced, what will I do then?’ What are you afraid of? Is the work something you can complete on your own? You are merely taking on a role, not being asked to take the whole thing on. If you take up what is yours to do, that will suffice. Will you then not have lived up to your responsibility? Such a simple matter—what is it you are always speculating about? If you are afraid of your own shadow, and your first thought is of how you will escape, are you not a good-for-nothing? What is a good-for-nothing? It is someone who gives no thought to their progress and is unwilling to give their all, who is always thinking of scrounging food and wishes to enjoy themselves. Such a person is trash. Some people are of such narrow scope—there is a way of describing them. What is it? (Extreme pettiness of character.) Those of extremely petty character are base people. All base people use their own hearts to measure those of their betters; to them, everyone seems to be as selfish and mean as they are. Such a person is a good-for-nothing. They may believe in God, but they will not easily accept the truth. What causes people to have too little faith? It is caused by a lack of understanding of the truth. If you do not understand enough truths, and your understanding is too shallow, that will not suffice to bring you to an understanding of every project that God undertakes in His work, or of everything He does, or of all His requirements of you. If you cannot achieve that understanding, you will give rise to all sorts of surmises, imaginings, misunderstandings, and notions about God. And if these are all you have in your heart, can you have true (The Word, Vol. 4. Exposing Antichrists. Item Seven (Part Two)). God’s words made me see that I was once again second-guessing and being wary of God. I was afraid of the responsibility I’d take on if something went wrong with that project, that it could impact my future prospects, so I wanted to escape it. I saw how terribly cunning my disposition was—I didn’t have true faith. I couldn’t keep doubting God and shirking my duty like this. Though I had lots of faults and didn’t have much reality of the truth, I could work alongside the others, learn from their strengths to make up for my shortcomings, pray to God, and seek relevant principles of the truth. God really doesn’t ask much of humans. As long as I put my all into it, I knew that God would guide me, and that any issues could slowly be resolved. At this thought, I happily accepted the task.?”
Thinking back, I lived in my notions and misunderstandings, always second-guessing and being wary of God, not submitting to Him at all, but He didn’t give up on saving me because of that. Instead, He kept enlightening and guiding me with His words, so I could understand His will to save man and see my own cunning, evil disposition, eliminate my misunderstandings of God, and gain the resolve to pursue the truth and satisfy Him. I personally felt how righteous God’s disposition is and how real His love for man is! I only want to focus on pursuing the truth in my duties from now on, and to do my duty well to repay God’s love.