DESIRING NOTHING BUT GOD HIMSELF
While on the path of our Christian life we have received the Lord’s mercy to see the ground of the church. Thus, we have to tell Him, “Lord, I want nothing but You.” Today if we desire something other than God, we will not be able to find the way of the church, and we will immediately lose the ground of the church. Some people meet at a certain place because they are able to preach the gospel there. However, if they are not able to preach the gospel, they will leave right away. Instead of loving God, these people love the evangelistic work. Therefore, they stay at a certain place, not for God or anything else, but for the evangelistic activities. All problems arise because our heart is not pure, and we desire something other than God. If we are those who simply desire God, we will see that the church is universally one and that its local expression should also be one. Everything else is mixed with human opinion and intentions. This is not what God desires, and this needs to be condemned.
SERVING GOD ON THE GROUND OF LOCALITY
If there is a group of brothers in Tainan who stand on this pure ground to serve God, and they make a declaration before the universe—“O God, we are simply Your children. We do not belong to any denomination or sect but only to You. We serve You on the ground of locality”—this will be a testimony to the world that they are not any kind of denomination, but they are a group of Christians who desire God alone and who want only to serve God on the ground of locality. If this were to happen, I believe that all those who have a pure heart would be drawn and would be enlightened to acknowledge such a ground.
If a brother who is not from Tainan moves to Tainan, and there is already a local church with some responsible ones in Tainan, what should this brother do? Do not think that all Christians are holy. Just as there are many who compete for high places in the political arena, so there are also some who vie for high positions in the church. Instead of joining the existing church, this brother may consider starting another one. The ground of the local church is already there in Tainan, and those who are in the church are truly Christians who are pure in heart and who serve God with a pure heart. Thus, he cannot find any fault with them. Therefore, he has no choice but to join them if he wants to serve God in Tainan. After much consideration, however, he may not be sure as to whether they will let him preach the word. So he goes to God and prays, “O God, should I join them, or should I establish another ‘church,’ a congregational church?” The more he prays, the more he feels that God wants him to set up a congregational church. Then, at that very moment a zealous Christian tells him that there is a piece of land available for his use. Therefore, he is even more full of thanks and praises to God for His provision. Thus, after starting a new congregational church, he preaches from the podium, saying, “We are the such-and-such chapel, and we are non-denominational.” He may claim to be non-denominational, but his speaking is actually divisive. The Bible tells us that in the church there cannot be Greek and Jew (Col. 3:11). The church cannot be divided into “chapels.” If someone establishes a “chapel,” it is a terrible sect and a human invention. There is no such thing in the Bible.
If our heart is not pure, sooner or later we will initiate something that does not correspond with what the Bible says. Someone once asked why is it that we do not cooperate with the various Christian organizations. Actually, which one among them is really cooperating with the others? Among the denominations in Christianity, which one of them does not have its own name? One of them operates the Bread of Life Church, another one manages the Chinese Evangelistic Mission, a third one operates the Salvation Army, and a fourth one manages the Fellowship Alliance. Every preacher, as long as he has a certain degree of fame, has a congregation under his own management. This is the case not only in Mainland China, but even in Taiwan today it is impossible for two famous preachers to labor together. By the Lord’s grace, however, although some among us who are laboring for the Lord in various places are very gifted, they are still able to labor together with others instead of doing a particular work of their own. This is because our eyes have been enlightened by God, causing us to fear God and to realize our own limitation.
While taking the Lord’s way of the church, we should not have any personal relationships or personal affection. I once told Brother Watchman Nee, who rendered me much help, “Even if one day you would not take this way, I will still take it.” May we all be able to say that even if all the leading brothers among us fall and forsake the Lord, we still will take this way. Our taking this way has nothing to do with man; rather, it is by the Lord’s mercy and grace. If we see this, we will pay attention to the church and to the ground of the church. Regardless of how divisive other people may be, we ourselves would not be divisive.
Furthermore, I hope that we are all clear about why we need such a ground. Although there are many local expressions of the church, there is only one expression in each locality. The church is one universally and it is also one locally. Suppose we are serving the Lord in Tainan, but one day the Lord brings us to Hualien where some brothers are meeting who do not belong to any denomination and who simply serve the Lord purely. When we arrive there, we should join them and meet with them. We should see that when we were in Tainan, we were brothers in Tainan, but now that we have come to Hualien, we are brothers in Hualien. This is the proper ground.
(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)