A CHRISTIAN HAVING THE CHURCH
Third, a Christian has the church. This refers to the church which has been recovered back to the beginning, back to the condition of the early churches where things were not done according to man’s methods but only according to the Bible. A Christian cannot be a Christian by himself alone; he must be in the church and have the church life. If a tree stands alone on a high mountain, it cannot easily remain standing; if it grows in a dense forest, it cannot easily topple. Satan loves to see Christians in isolation. A normal Christian in a locality should take the ground of that locality as the sphere in which to meet and serve with the saints there. As long as those saints are meeting according to the Bible and according to the practice of the early churches, they represent the church in that locality. Therefore, all Christians in that locality must be included. Hence, when we have problems, we should inquire not only of the Lord and of the Bible, but we should also inquire of the saints. We should look into the matters with them to find some solutions either in the church meetings or through private fellowship. This is truly a great protection and a proper help to us.
Sometimes because a church is big, it is not easy for the leading brothers to make decisions in matters related to the brothers and sisters. Normally when someone has a problem, he likes to seek advice from men of integrity. In the church, we are so blessed that the Lord has given us a group of devout believers. If someone in the church in Taipei is thinking about going to Taichung, he should ask where the church in Taichung meets. He should go only to a place where Christ, the Bible, and the church are. The church is a great help to us. Sometimes we may feel that the meetings are too long and boring and do not realize that they are actually a great blessing to us. Other times when we are away from home, we have no opportunity to meet with the saints for fellowship and for breaking of bread, and we feel a void within; we truly miss the saints and long to break bread with them. This kind of feeling is similar to the feeling we have when we are short of food. Every day we take our meals, but we do not realize the preciousness of food until we have been starved for three days. When we are hungry, we are not particular about what we are going to eat; at such a time everything is good to our taste.
If we were put in a place without a church, after one month of not having Christ and two months of not having our fellow Christians, we would eventually have a sense that it is the most miserable place. Sometimes just a simple love feast for fellowship can bring us a sense of sweetness. This is what the church affords us. Perhaps some will say that they can meet in their home by themselves. This may be true, but the taste will be different because the church is missing. Please remember that the church is a great matter and has a tremendous supply. Let me use myself as an illustration. I am a person who speaks for God. If you were to put me in the mountains for a month, when I come down from the mountains, I would no longer have anything to preach. However, in the church after I speak today, I have more to speak tomorrow, and after speaking tomorrow, I have still more to speak the day after tomorrow. I can never exhaust my speaking because in the church there is a rich source.
All those who speak for God know the preciousness of the church. All the riches of the church issue from the church and are transfused back to the church. The newly saved ones may not fully understand this word but all those saints who have experienced the church life have this kind of experience. Many times we do not know what to say or do but through the church and through our being joined with the Spirit in us, we have the words and the leading to press forward. Therefore, whenever we touch the church, we touch a great matter; this will affect the way we take for our entire Christian life.
A CHRISTIAN HAVING FELLOW CHRISTIANS
Fourth, in addition to Christ, the Bible, and the church, a Christian must have Christians other than himself. This means that a Christian should have at least one or two other brothers or sisters to be his spiritual companions. As Christians, we should not be independent; rather, we should always have six or seven spiritual companions. Among them, some should be older than we are in physical age while others should be older than we are in spiritual years; they are to be our best friends throughout our life. Our growth before the Lord is due to their help and support. Not long ago an older brother went to be with the Lord. We had known each other for twenty years. However, we were not worldly friends; rather, we lived before the Lord with a love for one another. When he was alive, whenever I had an important matter, I would always consult with him; likewise, he would consult with me about everything. There were many occasions when I would talk things over with him rather than with my wife; and in like manner, he would discuss things with me and not necessarily with his wife. In our consultations with one another, we truly experienced the Lord’s presence and blessing. The Lord can testify for us that a great part of my time before the Lord was spent with this brother.
Every Christian must have spiritual companions. In the church a brother should seek out one or two brothers while a sister should look for one or two sisters to be their spiritual companions. However, we should be wary of such a relationship turning into a mere friendship or social interchange. Love is proper, but intimacy is not. Although intimacy may not be a sin, please remember that intimacy deadens our spirit and causes us to lose the Lord’s presence. Forgive me for saying that the sisters are especially prone to go one step beyond the proper limit in their contact and fellowship with each other and sometimes even to the extent that they lose the simplicity in the Lord. Do not forget that there should be a limit—the cross. Once you go beyond the limit and your relationship with the saints becomes a friendship, then you must reject it. Nevertheless, it is of necessity that a Christian has some fellow Christians as his spiritual companions, just as Moses had Joshua, David had Jonathan, and Daniel had his three companions. In the New Testament, Peter had James, and Paul had Timothy; they all had companions in the Lord. Every Christian should have some spiritual companions in the church. Then he will become a strong, rejoicing, and proper Christian.
(The Pursuit of a Christian, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)