The Spirit and the Body, by Witness Lee

More excerpts from this title...


Let us now consider 1 Corinthians 12:22 and 23. These verses say, "Nay, much more those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, are necessary. And those members of the body, which we think to be less honorable, these we clothe with more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness" (Gk.). What are the members which we think to be less honorable and which we clothe with more abundant honor? As you consider your own body, do you know what members these are? Those members of the body which seem to be less honorable are the feet. In 1948 I was staying with Brother Nee in his hometown. At a certain point in our conversation, he said, "Witness, the more cultured people are, the more they adorn their feet. Whether your culture is high or low is indicated by the way you adorn your feet. You northerners have higher culture than the southerners. You never go around with bare feet. Rather, you beautify them with socks and shoes." I replied, "Brother Nee, the northerners adorn their feet because the weather there is cold. The southerners may simply wear a pair of slippers because the weather here is usually very warm." Brother Nee replied, "No, don’t say this. Even among the southerners, the highly cultured people do not go around with bare feet. They always spend money to beautify their feet."

One day I was reading 1 Corinthians 12:21, where Paul says that the head cannot say to the feet, "I have no need of you." The head should not say, "Feet, because you are so low, I don’t need you." Because the feet are so low, they need more adornment. Suppose I were fully dressed with a suit and tie, but had no shoes and socks on. Would you not say that it was shameful for me to be barefooted? However, you would not consider it shameful for my head or my hands to be uncovered. This indicates that the feet are the less honorable members of the body. Because they are less honorable than the other members, we need to adorn them properly.

However, we often damage the principle of the Body by adorning the head with many "hats," but not caring for the lower members, the feet. We need to bestow more honor on the feet. From now on, in all the churches and in all the meetings we must learn to clothe the lower members with more honor. Do not buy more "hats" for the head. Instead, purchase "shoes" for the adornment of the feet so that you may beautify these less honorable parts of the Body.


Today, however, we often follow the despicable practice of crowning the eloquent speakers with honor. Sisters admire eloquence. Certain sisters may place several crowns upon the head of an eloquent one. If I were an eloquent speaker and my speech were like music, the sisters would find it entertaining and would say, "Let us go to hear Brother Lee. His speaking is so pleasant." All the sisters would purchase crowns for me. But suppose I spoke in a very halting way. Finding listening to me unbearable, everyone would want me to sit down. Instead of clothing me with honor, they would deprive me of whatever adornment I had for my uncomely feet. They would strip me in order to suppress me from speaking in the meetings. Nevertheless, we must thank God that He has brought so many halting speakers into the church. Which do you prefer—the head or the feet? Throughout the years of the church life in California, we have not spent a penny to adorn the head. However, we have spent a great deal to buy socks and shoes to beautify the feet. This is precisely Paul’s meaning when he says that the members that seem to be less honorable are clothed with more abundant honor.

We all need to learn to exercise ourselves as the Body. From now on, we should no longer regard eloquence so highly. Instead, we should honor those who speak haltingly. When you hear this, you may say, "Brother Lee, this is too difficult. Eloquence is so sweet and musical. But I cannot tolerate listening to halting speech." If you cannot tolerate it, it is an indication that you are natural and not spiritual. In the Body life every member is needed. In order to have the church life, the Body life, we need all the members. The services in Christianity today are a form of entertainment. Both the singers and the speakers entertain the congregation. In the seminaries men are taught to speak eloquently and are taught how to attract people and to entertain them. What a shame it is to speak eloquently to entertain people! We are not here for this. Instead, we must either crucify people or resurrect them. Instead of entertainment, we have the experience of the cross.

(The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 15, by Witness Lee)