BEING DELIVERED FROM RELIGIOUS RITUALS, PAYING ATTENTION ONLY TO THE ONENESS OF THE FAITH
In addition, there is another problem, that is, so-called religious piety. We may illustrate what religious piety is by the following example. Some people are not satisfied with the present condition of our meetings because we shout, pray loudly, and release our spirits. From their youth they have been taught that they must be careful with the way they walk when they enter a “sanctuary.” They must walk as slowly and as quietly as possible. When I was young and was meeting with the Brethren, I was taught the same thing. Whenever we met together, we were so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. But that kind of silence is the silence of the tomb. Only a cemetery is this quiet and orderly. If you go to a kindergarten, however, you will see little children hopping and jumping with much noise. I would rather have a noisy, bustling kindergarten than a quiet, orderly cemetery. Others criticize our meetings because it seems that there is no beginning and no end. Most Christian worship services on Sunday mornings have a set format; they begin with a hymn and end with a benediction. But when you come to our meetings, a small sister in the corner next to the wall may say, “O Lord, hallelujah, amen!” and the meeting begins. We do not have preachers or pastors; sometimes everybody speaks in our meetings, and there is no benediction at the end. I would like to tell you, however, that there is no need to pay attention to these matters. If you pay attention to these things, immediately you will be far from the oneness of the faith.
I can never forget the summer of 1932, when Brother Nee was invited to speak to the graduating class of a seminary in Huang County, Shantung Province, and I took a special leave of absence from work to accompany him. That was the first time I had ever been in a meeting of the Pentecostal movement. When I went in, I saw some of them rolling, some jumping, some laughing, and some saying, “I have seen a vision, a great, great light!” They called those things “holy rolling,” “holy jumping,” and “holy laughter.” There were several hundred people in the hall, but everyone was acting in his own way for quite a long time. Brother Nee could not speak the message until they were finished. Later the pastor told everyone to stop, and finally he picked up a bell to ring. Still, no one paid attention to him; everyone kept acting in his own way. It was the first time I had seen such a situation, and I could not bear it or take it. After the pastor had rung the bell for a very long time, everybody finally stopped, and then Brother Nee spoke a message.
After Brother Nee had spoken and left the platform, I accompanied him for a walk on the school campus. I said, “Brother Nee, I cannot take their meetings with the rolling and laughing and jumping.” I thought Brother Nee would think the same way I did. However, he did not say whether he approved or disapproved. He simply said in a light, moderate tone, “There is no word in the New Testament that tells us definitely what is the right way to meet.” When I heard this, I thought that Brother Nee approved of their way. Later I learned that he did not necessarily approve of their situation. Nevertheless, because at that time he had a very clear vision and very clear light, when he listened to what I was saying, he knew that I was still in religious rituals. He was very wise, however, and did not rebuke me; he said only in a gentle manner that the New Testament does not definitely tell us how to meet. He said this to deliver me from religious rituals.
If we truly know and experience the Son of God and truly become His Body, His fullness, we will not care for forms of meeting. This is why from the beginning we have paid absolutely no attention to any regulations, especially in the beginning of the testimony in America. In 1960 before I went to America, I spoke many messages in Taipei, hoping that you all could be delivered from rituals. I spoke over a period of about a year, but the more I spoke, the more you became dead; the more I spoke, the more you stopped moving. Therefore, when the Lord took me to America, because of the lessons I had learned in the Far East, right from the beginning I did not set up any forms among them. This is the Lord’s great deliverance. I hope that today even our calling on the Lord’s name, our pray-reading, our pray-singing, and everything we do will not become our forms. It is even possible that our meeting tomorrow will be very quiet yet still be full of the Spirit and life. We must not have any rituals.
My main point is this: You must see Ephesians 4:13, which says, “Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith.” It is not the oneness of any doctrine, but the oneness of the faith. Whether shouting or whispering, whether being noisy or being quiet, these things are not important because they are not matters related to the faith. Our faith is the Lord Jesus Himself, including His Person and His work. As we continue to grow in Christ until the day we become full-grown, we should put away all these differences, which are like toys. We should pay attention only to our faith, which is the Person and work of Christ.
I speak these things lest you be bothered by some practices. We must see very clearly that the church is the Body of Christ, and this Body is the fullness of Christ, and this fullness must grow up gradually. By our contacting Him more, receiving Him more, enjoying Him more, and experiencing Him more, He will be constituted more in our entire being and experienced out from our entire being. This is the true church, the practical church. His fullness is His Body; thus, we can say that it is just Christ. The Lord in Himself is the Head, and the Lord in all of us is this one Body.
(One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)