COOPERATING WITH THE LORD AND COORDINATING WITH THE CHURCH
To have these four practices of the Lord’s recovery in a church is not so simple. We have all been in the old way for many years. People love their old habits. The habit of the Chinese is to use chopsticks. If you exchanged their chopsticks for forks, they would not like it. In the same way, it is very hard for the saints to change their way of meeting. We have been accustomed to having big meetings with one speaker who may be gifted, eloquent, knowledgeable, rich, living, and even exciting. We liked having such a brother and considered it a blessing to have someone to give us something exciting every Lord’s Day. Now some may feel that all these exciting brothers have been taken from our meetings. They feel that we are all suffering, coming to the meeting without a big speaker, knowing that we all have to be the speakers. Do not expect that this situation will change right away. It takes time.
It would be wonderful if all the churches had fully entered into the four practices of the present advance of the Lord’s recovery. However, there may be few such churches on the earth today because many of us have been in the old practice and have become used to it. Even though the leading ones in the churches may agree with these four practices, they may feel that it is difficult to practice them. Furthermore, at the present time there may be no way to practice them in some places. Therefore, for now some localities may still need a meeting in the traditional way with one person speaking and the rest listening. However, we surely need to have a change. First Corinthians 14 has to be fulfilled, and the Body of Christ has to be built up in this biblical way. We have to admit that we are in a situation which is not up to the standard of the divine revelation, at the level of God’s ordination. Because our progress has somewhat stopped, we are causing the Lord to be stopped. We need a change.
If the church in your locality is not ready to practice these four practices, you should not push the saints, condemn them, or criticize them. This is wrong. You should still go along with the church. Perhaps a church would only carry out the first two practices, not being ready to practice the perfecting of the saints and the prophesying. You still have to go along with the church. Do not look down on the church. Do not criticize the leading ones, do not be dissenting, and do not cause trouble. You simply should pray and let the church have time to get into something new. However, none of the elders would condemn you if, without making trouble for the church, you would pick up the burden to make a vow to go out to visit people and get two or three saved and placed under your care. Even if the church does not practice this at the present time, you may pick up a burden to do it. Do not “blow the trumpet” by declaring that you are visiting people by door-knocking. Simply go out to visit people. After some are saved, keep going to their homes to have home meetings with them to build them up and raise them up. No elder will condemn this. They would like to see you bring people to be saved and then brought into the church and established for the church life. However, they may feel that it is still not the time to bring this matter into the church life as a general practice. You have to be patient with them, but you should not be stopped. Go out to visit people and get them saved. Then keep going to visit them in their homes to have home meetings with them. By this way we can go on.
One church may practice all the four practices of the Lord’s recovery, while another church may only practice one. Do not be bothered, and do not condemn others. Do not say that a church is stubborn or old. It is hard for the churches to be unified in practice, especially in a short time. We should only do as much as we can, as much as the Lord leads, and as much as the environment allows. We should not despise or look down on anyone. We should not oppose, make trouble, criticize, or gossip. We should simply go along with the elders, doing what we can according to what the environment allows. Then gradually all the churches will learn. Perhaps after five years all the churches will be the same. This may be illustrated by the progress of the nations of the earth. One hundred years ago most nations did not practice democracy. Today, however, many nations are seeking after democracy; this is the age of democracy. Likewise, this is the time for the Lord to have a change, to bring His seeking ones into a new age. We in the Lord’s recovery should be brought into a new age. We should be willing to coordinate, to cooperate, with the Lord’s move.
Every item, every point, of what we have presented concerning the practice of the Lord’s advanced recovery is according to the revelation of the New Testament. It is scriptural, and it is God-ordained. However, we have been practicing the church life in the way which has been handed down for nineteen centuries. We are still in an inherited, traditional practice. Now the Lord wants us to come into an age in which every item of our practice is according to God’s ordination, the divine revelation. Then the Lord will have a way to build up His organic Body. We all have to pray toward this goal, and we all have to do our best to cooperate with the Lord and to coordinate together step by step. Gradually, the entire recovery of the Lord will proceed onward. As long as we are faithful, we can reach the goal.
We all should bring these matters into prayer and try our best to put them into practice. However, do not do anything that will bother the church. Likewise, we should not give up what we have seen. We should not stop laboring according to the vision the Lord has shown us. According to God’s sovereign arrangement, the environment, the circumstances, and the surroundings, we must be faithful to practice what we have seen. Then we will go on peacefully with one another, and the churches will go on with one another. We will all learn from one another, and we will all be helped and improved by one another. This will give the Lord time to bring us onward until we all arrive at the goal. Ephesians 4:13 says, “Until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, at a full-grown man, at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” We are now in the stage of being perfected. I hope that we will pray for all of us to enter into the practice of the Lord’s advanced recovery today so that we all can arrive at the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. We need to put whatever we have seen into practice. At the same time, we must do our best to avoid causing any kind of trouble or hardship in the churches. May the Lord grace us as we labor together with Him in the practice of His advanced recovery today.
(A Summary of the Study of the New Testament Way of Christian Service, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)