A GREAT STRUGGLE RELATED TO LIFE AND GROWTH
Since Christ has been sown into us as life, there has been a great struggle between the Lord and the enemy, both around us and within us. We should not think that the negative items in Matthew 13 are only there and not within us. Within us are the same matters mentioned in this chapter. The enemy may have snatched away the words and messages we received concerning Christ. In the past two and a half years many messages about Christ as life have been ministered to you, but nearly every bit may have been snatched away by the enemy. You may listen to message after message, but after listening nothing may be left remaining in you. Or perhaps the seed sown remains, but you may be a shallow, superficial person full of rocks and stones beneath. If this is the case, can Christ grow within you?
You may say, “Praise the Lord, I am not too shallow. I am a deeper person.” However, is there something choking you within? Are there the cares of this life, lusts, the love of money; is there the desire to be rich, to better your life, and to uplift your standard of living? I do not like to say these things, and I am not happy to say them, but I feel the burden to do so. All these things choke, so after two and a half years, where is the growth? In addition, you may have friendships with imitation, artificial Christians, which may frustrate you from growing. The inner life is working within you, yet there may be an influence without that causes a struggle. By your experiences, you know what I am saying.
Moreover, there may be leaven. In addition, the principle of the great tree is always within us. In these days the church in Los Angeles is looking for a meeting place. Whenever we touch this matter, there is the temptation to have a bigger, more beautiful building. We may say, “Our current building cannot attract people. This kind of building is for the poorer, lower class. The bank managers and people with doctorate degrees will not come here.” To speak in this way is the principle of the great tree. If we say that the “poor Jesus” is not good enough to attract people, we must be careful. The principle of the great tree is still in our nature. We still like to be big, to have magnificent, attractive material things. We do not have enough money for those things, but even if we did, we should not care for them. We need to keep the principle of the mustard seed—to be little, temporary, and transient. If you feel that to sit in a nicer chair when we meet is very good, you are still in the great tree. When the Lord Jesus was on the earth, what kind of meeting place did He have? He met on the mountainside and on the seashore. Of course, I am not legalistic, but I do not like anything with the principle of the great tree.
In Shanghai, mostly under my hand, we built a meeting hall that could accommodate three thousand people inside and two thousand outside. The brothers brought the architect to me. He asked, “Mr. Lee, what kind of design do you want for your church?” I explained it to him again and again, but he simply could not understand me. We were both speaking Chinese, but he could not understand. He said, “I have learned architecture. I know how to build a law court, a restaurant, and a church, but I do not understand what kind of church you want to build.” His thought contained the principle of the great tree. I told him to let me draw the rough design, and he could just fit it to the city codes. By cooperating in this way, we were able to do it. However, we did not build a “church.” We simply built a big “warehouse.”
When we came to Taiwan, we built the first meeting hall in Taipei, hall one, in 1952. The same thing happened again. The architects could not understand what we wanted to build. Again, I drew the rough design and told them to do their best to meet the requirements of the city codes. When the inspector from the housing department came, he said, “Is this your church? It is just a warehouse.” I do not feel shameful about this; I feel glorious. This is the principle of the mustard seed.
(Practical Lessons on the Experience of Life, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)