BEING DELIVERED FROM THE SELF
Third, we need to be delivered from the self. To preach the gospel effectively, we need to be delivered not only from our sins and the world but also from the self. Many brothers and sisters lack power in the gospel because they care too much for themselves. Hence, if we want to have power in the gospel, we have to come down from our “throne.” Everyone has his own throne—the wife has her throne, the manager has his throne, the student has his throne, the parents have their throne, and the children also have their throne. We all have our thrones, and it is hard for us to come down from them. In short, because everyone has his throne, once they speak just a few words, others can recognize whether they are a wife, a manager, or a university student. However, a powerful gospel preacher is one who is without sins, without the world, and without the self.
Many people are very powerful in the preaching of the gospel, yet they do not have any flavor of the self. You may say that he is a prominent person, yet he does not look like one; you may think that he is a great teacher, but he does not look like one. No one can really tell what he is, because he does not have any airs. Suppose there is a sister among us who is a wife who always sits on her “throne.” Surely, this sister’s gospel preaching will be powerless. It is the same with those who are students. As long as we desire to keep and preserve ourselves, the gospel will lose ground and power in us. If we want to rise up to preach the gospel, we have to forsake our social position, our prestige, and our self.
Suppose there is a brother among us who is a high school teacher and who has the burden to preach the gospel to people in the countryside. However, these countrymen are nighttime janitors who clean toilets. Will this brother be able to clean the toilets along with them? Most likely he will not be able to do so because he probably has not been delivered from his self. What does it mean to be delivered from the self? In simple words, it means that we do not live in ourselves, but we live “in” others. If you are a high school teacher, when you meet a nighttime janitor who cleans toilets, you will not be in yourself; rather, you will be in him and you will be the same as he. Then you will be able to gain him. Even if you are the wife of a rich man, when you meet the poor wife of a beggar, you will live “in” her and not give her the feeling that she is poor and you are rich. Rather, you will give her the feeling that you are the same as she is. Then you will be able to gain her. I do not have the boldness to say this in other matters, but it is really the case in the matter of the gospel. Suppose some brothers who are managers or bosses say to their subordinates, “You need to be saved. Do not think that it is enough to earn some money every month. If you do not believe in Jesus, you will go to hell after you die.” This kind of gospel preaching will have no effect. I saw a sister who told her servant, “You need to believe in Jesus. If you do not believe in Jesus, you will not be saved. It is terrible to go to hell.” This is similar to the emperor of Japan giving an order to his subjects. This kind of a gospel cannot be powerful. To be powerful we have to come out of ourselves.
We cannot say that all of the Western missionaries who came to China in the early days were good, but the majority of them were very good. It is said that there were some missionaries who went to the villages to preach the gospel when they first came to Shantung. At that time many countrymen had lice on their bodies, and even their blankets were full of lice. These missionaries, however, did not mind. When they preached the gospel in the villages, they mixed in with all these countrymen. When they had to stay the night, they shared blankets with these countrymen because the poor people did not have extra blankets. After spending a night with them, the missionaries also had lice all over their bodies. However, because of this they gained many countrymen. Some countrymen were very poor. Outside of their houses they raised hogs, inside their houses they raised donkeys, and in the middle of their houses they had a millstone. At night those who preached the gospel slept within the periphery of the millstone. Beside them were the donkeys, and even at night the donkeys would eat grass. The situation was really miserable. However, each one of them was very willing to suffer. Although today we do not have that many problems in the city, the principle is the same. If we always maintain the attitude that others should accommodate us, the gospel will have no way to go out. Only when we are delivered from the self and accommodate others will the gospel be powerful.
(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)